Agenda item

Annual Review of the Revenues & Benefits Shared Management Arrangement


The Director (Corporate Services) introduced the report which was for information only. Since October 2019, the Council has had in place a shared service arrangement with Medway Council for the provision of management services for the Revenues & Benefits Service. This involved the Head of Revenues & Benefits and the Revenues Manager employed by Medway Council taking managerial responsibility for service provided by Gravesham Borough Council and Medway Council.

As per the Council’s Working in Partnership Framework (which was adopted by Council on 16 April 2019), a formal review of the shared management arrangement had to be undertaken on an annual basis. This year’s Review had been very positive and recommended the continuation of the shared arrangement.  The Head of Revenues & Benefits and the Revenues Manager had proved very beneficial to Gravesham especially during the pandemic which had proven the benefits of the Council being able to access skill sets available across the two authorities. Members were advised that the service would continue to focus on the deployment of skills and looking at how this could be improved.

The following points were raised during discussion on the report:

·         Following a question on the monthly dashboard reports to the shadow Portfolio Holder, the Director (Corporate Services) confirmed that she would ensure these would take place.

·         In relation to the procurement of the IT and software for Revenues & Benefits, Members were informed that both authorities had separately procured the Northgate system before the shared arrangement had come into being. No IT or software had been procured since that time. Both councils had two Northgate systems, the first for the calculation of revenues and benefits and the second being a document imaging system and each authority had a different version of the system. This would need to be bought into alignment which would reduce the staff training required and increase resilience.

·         The words “external resilience” referred to a service resource provided by Northgate which local authorities could buy in. It was noted that the Council had taken advantage of this service due to the Test and Trace work required to be administered by the team.

·         The importance of Test and Trace payments for residents who had to self-isolate was highlighted and Members were advised that these payments had been prioritised as required by Central Government. The Committee was advised that the team had been able to process the applications for payment using the criteria laid down by the Government using existing resources and the Northgate resilience service. The Head of Revenues & Benefits confirmed that the Council had received 903 applications so far and, once the correct details had been received from the claimant, payment could be processed within 2 to 3 days.  It was also noted that an average of 27 claims a week had been received in November, 59 in December and 160 in January. The highest number received per week had been 152 and the team had managed to keep up with processing the claims. A report on this subject would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee.

·         It was confirmed that the costing for the second period represented a full year and the relative increases were inflationary and included a cost of living increase.

Resolved that the report be noted.

Supporting documents: