Agenda Item No.
Matter Which the Chairman Has Decided Is Urgent for Reason of the Need to Update Members as to the Progress Made at the Earliest Opportunity
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 19TH NOVEMBER, 2012
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 13TH NOVEMBER, 2012
" INTERIM REPORT OF THE TASK AND FINISH GROUP ON WELFARE REFORM (HFS) –
The Task and Finish Group had met on four occasions to date. Given that the last meeting of the Group had only very recently taken place, the report detailed the progress made at the first three meetings as summarised below:
· the scope and terms of reference of the Group
· the Risk Analysis in relation to Welfare Reform which had been broken down into specific areas, a copy of which was appended to the report. Members considered that the changes occurring in April 2013 for which the Council had direct responsibility for delivering had the highest priority ranking. Those changes included the delivery of the Council Tax Support Scheme and the changes to the housing benefit relating to up-rating of the local housing allowance, the benefit cap and the benefit reduction for over accommodated tenants
· a communications plan, also appended to the report, which covered claimants potentially affected, staff, services and other partner organisations. In addition, the Group had considered that a briefing for all Members of the Council would be useful and that had taken place on 26th September
· two sessions were held at the Local Service Board Forum seminar on 5th October which provided general information on the welfare reforms and to allow consideration of some of the more detailed implications for claimants and how LSB partners would be affected and how organisations could work together. The Group would invite stakeholders to attend future meeting(s)
· the Action Plan, attached at Appendix C to the report, had been agreed. As with the Risk Analysis, the Plan had been broken down into the key themes of welfare reform and was being further developed Staff were being kept informed as were the trade unions. A report on future staffing implications would be submitted to the Group in due course
· an update of the current position with the Council Tax Support Scheme, the Group being notified that there would be an All Wales Council Tax Scheme but that there would be a small number of areas where councils would have discretion as amplified in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the report. The main issue was that of funding as the expectation was that all liable persons would be required to contribute to their council tax bill
· all councils in Wales could now access financial modelling software which would help identify the impact of the change and would assist the Council in budgeting for the scheme. The Group had put forward a proposal to procure the necessary software which Cabinet had recently agreed
· an update on the current position with the benefit changes. Information had been shared on potentially over accommodated tenants with the Council’s housing service and with social landlords to enable them to identify the tenants affected and the scale of change. The Head of Financial Services indicated that discretionary housing payments might help alleviate individual problems and that the policy would need to be reviewed
· a questionnaire aimed at identifying the provision of money and debt advice across the Council, LSB partners and the Third Sector had been approved for despatch given that it was essential that the extra resources required be targeted appropriately.
Members were notified that regular progress reports would made to the Committee in addition to the budget implications once known. The Head of Financial Services drew attention to the fact that much uncertainty remained but that work was ongoing in those areas where real progress could be achieved. The Head of Service was agreeable to a suggestion that all Members receive an updated briefing on similar lines to that delivered to Members in September 2012.
(1) T H A T the report be noted.
(2) T H A T the actions of the Task and Finish Group in agreeing the Risk Analysis, Communications Plan and Action Plane be endorsed.
(3) T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet.
Reason for recommendations
(1-3) To ensure that Members are updated."
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 13th November, 2012