Recovery and Renewal Actions
- Meeting of Policy and Resources Committee, Wednesday 15th September, 2021 6.30 pm (Item 74.)
- View the background to item 74.
The Chief Executive introduced the report and referenced the Committee’s previous consideration of the proposed recovery and renewal projects in July 2021, during which the Council’s other Service Committees were requested to review the proposed actions within their respective remits. The feedback received would be presented to the Committee in October 2021.
The application of the ‘Build Back Better’ principles to the Council’s actions moving forward were reiterated, with the projects within the Committees remit shown in Appendix A to the report.
In referencing Appendix B, the important work undertaken by the Revenues and Benefits team to maximise financial inclusion was highlighted. For example, 7,000 residents within the borough were found to be eligible for an income-based tariff with Southeast Water, with data matching from the latter enabling 4,000 of those residents to be informed of their eligibility. A total of £146,000 had been saved so far, with a total expected saving of £680,000 collectively for those residents.
The importance of the specialist advice surrounding debt reduction was reiterated, particularly as 20% of the referrals received by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) originated from the Council. The CAB had lost an income stream of £53,00 due to a change in commissioning arrangements by the Money and Pensions Service and the Committee were asked to consider providing short-term funding to enable the CAB to continue providing its services, whilst seeking a long-term financial solution. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Council and the CAB was up for review and there had been significant changes since its original implementation, such as the creation of a protocol between the two parties in reducing debt and changes to the Council’s Housing Service.
In referencing Appendix C, the importance of the Town Centre Strategy in light of the economic and buildings class use changes being experienced was highlighted. The importance of identifying key sites within the Town Centre, preparatory work and building upon the previous ‘opportunity sites’ work was highlighted. A significant level of investment into the strategy and delivery plan was required.
The Committee expressed support for the debt reduction work undertaken and for a continued, but reviewed, partnership with the CAB. The importance of practical as well as financial assistance was highlighted and the Chief Executive stated that Councillors would be provided with a list of organisations to direct residents to if required.
The Committee championed a Town Centre Strategy that fully supported the future business and growth needs of the Town Centre as the County Town of Kent, in conjunction with the Local Plan Review. The future adaptability of the work proposed as part of the Strategy, such as contributing to a Development Plan Document if required, was supported.
The Strategy required significant financial resources which could be delivered in-part through the £860,000 in grant funding provided, from the Council’s underspend from 2020-2021 or a combination of both of those and other funding streams. The income and economic growth that could be generated from a strong Strategy was noted in the context of the proposed cost.
In response to questions on the funding allocated for the ‘Way We Work’ project within Appendix A, the Director of Finance and Business Improvement confirmed that using some of the £860,000 funding provided would allow the council to deliver the organisational change required without having to rely on its revenue budget.
In moving forward, the uses and benefits of performance monitoring through data analytics was highlighted, particularly in considering the funding required for the projects shown within Appendix A to the report.
1. The Committees broad support for the actions proposed as set out in the papers be noted, with the clear expectation of measurable outputs; and
2. A meeting be arranged between the relevant officers and the Citizens Advice Bureau to review the existing SLA in consultation with the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman.
Note: Councillor Harper left the meeting between 8.06 p.m. to 8.08 p.m. whilst the Committee voted on the item.
- Recovery and Renewal Actions, item 74. PDF 206 KB View as HTML (74./1) 99 KB
- Appendix A: Recovery and Renewal Action Plan, item 74. PDF 142 KB View as HTML (74./2) 51 KB
- Appendix B- Financial Inclusion Strategy, item 74. PDF 242 KB View as HTML (74./3) 56 KB
- Appendix C- Town Centre Strategy, item 74. PDF 100 KB View as HTML (74./4) 39 KB