Issue - meetings

Recovery and Renewal Actions

Meeting: 15/09/2021 - Policy and Resources Committee (Item 74)

74 Recovery and Renewal Actions pdf icon PDF 206 KB

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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  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74