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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 5 November 2012

 

Report of the Leader

 

Council Tax Support 

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet approval for the procurement of software to support the implementation of the Council Tax Support Scheme, which will replace Council Tax Benefit from April 2013

Recommendations

1.         That the Council procures the Academy Council Tax Support module from Capita Software Services on terms agreed by the Head of Financial Services in consultation with the Leader;

2.         That the Head of Legal Services is authorised to execute the necessary legal documentation;

3.         That Contract Standing Order 6.1.1 (a) is used given the proprietary nature of the software;

4.         That the procurement is funded from the Welfare Reform Reserve if necessary.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that the Council has suitable software to deliver the Council Tax Support Scheme to eligible Council Tax payers in the Vale of Glamorgan;

2.         To cover the contractual obligations;

3.         To regularise the use of a single supplier;

4.         To fund the procurement.

Background

2.         The Council currently uses the Academy system supplied by Capita Software Services for the administration of Council Tax, Non Domestic Rates, Housing and Council Tax Benefits, Free School Meals and Housing Benefits Overpayments Recovery.  Capita is one of three suppliers of revenues and benefits software used by Councils in Wales

3.         As part of the UK Government's welfare reforms the existing Council Tax Benefit system will be abolished and will be replaced by a localised system of Council Tax Support.  In Wales overall responsibility for Council Tax Support has been delegated to the Welsh Government, with Welsh councils being responsible for delivery.  The Welsh Government is in the process of making regulations in relation to the detailed workings of the scheme in Wales.  It is understood that there will be a default scheme, with a small number of discretions.  Councils will be required to adopt the scheme and discretions by 31 January 2013.  In the absence of a council adopting a scheme, then the default scheme will apply.  It is understood that the scheme to be adopted for 2013 -14 is likely to be an interim scheme and further developments will be made to the scheme from 2014-15.  Such changes would need to be reflected in the software.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         Each of the 3 software suppliers has been working with the Welsh Government to provide software to enable Councils to administer a Council Tax Support scheme in line with the Welsh regulations from April 2013.  It is essential to have software in place for development and implementation of the scheme for Council Tax billing in February 2013.  It is essential that any software system connects with the existing suite of revenues and benefits systems and will continue to be developed and supported as the Council Tax Support System develops.

5.         As the Council uses Academy software for the administration of its revenues the only feasible option is to purchase the Academy Council Tax Support module from Capita Software Services.    

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

6.         In England the Department for Communities and Local Government has provided a grant to each authority to purchase the necessary software.  To date, no such commitment has been given by the Welsh Government to fund Welsh councils, though the WLGA is pressing for funding.    Indicative costs for the software are £59,000 to cover each of the first two years of developments.  This is based on a flat rate fee for all councils in England and Wales.  Officers are pressing for a reduction to the price to reflect the all Wales scheme. 

7.         Given the requirement to implement the system by April 2013 it is essential that the necessary software is procured and installed as soon as possible.  It is proposed to fund the software purchase from a reserve set aside for welfare reform.  If a grant is forthcoming, then it will not be necessary to call on the reserve.

8.         As the software is in effect an extension of the existing system it is proposed to seek an exemption Contract Standing Order 6.1.1(a) since the goods or materials are proprietary articles and are of such a nature that there is only one supplier or the Council is held contractually or practically to dealing with one supplier.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

9.         None

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

10.      The Council will be required to implement and administer the Council Tax Support Scheme in line with the regulations set by the Welsh Government.

Crime and Disorder Implications

11.      None

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

12.      None directly

Corporate/Service Objectives

13.      Procurement of this software will assist the service in meeting its objectives to administer and pay housing and council tax  benefits to eligible claimants.

Policy Framework and Budget

14.      The matter is for Executive Decision by Cabinet

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

15.      The matter has been considered by the member Task and Finish group.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

16.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Letter from Capita ; Council Tax Support (CTS) Update

Contact Officer

Clive Teague

Officers Consulted

Revenues and Benefits Manager

Benefits Manager

Council Tax Manager

Responsible Officer:

Director of Resources