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Delegated Decision - Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance Minutes    

Date: Thursday 11 March 2021       Time: 04:30 PM       Location: Virtual Meeting       Contact: gwright@Mansfield.gov.uk

Attendance Details

PresentNames
Present:Councillor Craig Whitby
In AttendanceAttendees
In Attendance:Mariam Amos, Gabriella Wright, Dawn Edwards, Councillor Andrew Tristram
ItemDescriptionBackground InformationDecision
 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCEAPOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

None.
 
21/19DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTDECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

None.
 
21/20ADVANCE QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLICADVANCE QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

None were received.
 
21/21ADVANCE QUESTIONS FROM NON-EXECUTIVE MEMBERSADVANCE QUESTIONS FROM NON-EXECUTIVE MEMBERS

Two questions were received from Councillor Tristram:

Question 1:

Does the Portfolio Holder feel the figure of £8,405 is an accurate estimation of the associated printing, distribution and postage costs communicating with 15,167 residents (55p per household)?

Does this include the cost of communications already sent out where residents were provided with the incorrect information? If not, what was the cost of this?

What is the estimated cost of officer time dealing with processing these refunds and in dealing with any queries raised by residents through the call centre?

The Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance responded:

I can confirm the figure of £8,405 is an accurate reflection of the costs associated with notifying our customers of a compensation payment in respect of the garden waste service.

The specification included all stationery, printing and postage.

The Council sought three quotes and awarded the contract in accordance with financial regulations and the contract procedure rules.

This cost does not include the costs of letters sent to residents in February 2021, detailing the service charge and terms and condition of the service for 2021/22. The total cost for this communication was £9,267.31.

The majority of the compensation payments will not impact on officer time as the refund will be made by adjusting the value of the direct debit payment to be taken. There are 7,935 direct debit customers. .

For those customers that paid on-line (4,540 customers) the majority will be reimbursed to the card they used to pay for the service in 2020. This should be relatively straight forward and shouldn’t impact significantly on officer time. There will, however, be a small number of customers whose details may have expired or details will have changed. This will require some manual intervention by officers to update the details and action the refund.

The final cohort of customers are those that paid in cash at a Paypoint or Post Office, a total of 2,692 customers. Customers are asked to apply for a refund on-line or return the form provided in a pre-paid envelope. On receipt of this information a manual intervention will be required by officers to pay the refund.

An estimation of officer time is therefore difficult to gauge but we do recognise there will be additional work as a result of this decision.

Question 2:

What consideration has been given by the Portfolio Holder to delaying the start of the billing period from 1st April to 1st June thus recompensing residents for their loss of service without incurring the administrative and other costs associated with dealing with 15,167 individual refunds? A change in the annual billing period would also have the added benefit of sending out the bills at a different time of the year to Council Tax bills, reduce pressure with Call Centre queries at that time of year and provide a promotional opportunity to advertise the service with the Council Tax Demands.

The Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance Responded:

Various options have been considered in how best to process compensation payments to garden waste customers. All services affected have been involved in agreeing an approach with a view to minimising the impact on those services.

Delaying the billing period wasn’t considered an appropriate response as the garden waste service is payable from 1st April and bins will be collected on this basis from this time. It’s important to recognise that the refund relates to a period from last year only for those people who subscribed to the service. A free period is not considered suitable as firstly not everyone would be entitled, those who subscribed after the service was disrupted for example would not be, it would therefore take even more officer time to stagger the administration of the billing for garden waste. Secondly the payments for the service are made as a single payment rather than spread monthly. Delaying the billing for garden waste would not therefore take away the need for the refund or reduction in direct debit payments. As I set out before the costs associated with processing the refund mainly relate to contacting the customers to inform them of what is happening. Irrespective of which route is taken customers need to be informed and contacted to make them aware.
 
21/22GENERAL FUND REVENUE BUDGET EXPENDITURE TO COMPENSATE GARDEN WASTE CUSTOMERS FOR LOSS OF SERVICE IN APRIL AND MAY 2020 GENERAL FUND REVENUE BUDGET EXPENDITURE TO COMPENSATE GARDEN WASTE CUSTOMERS FOR LOSS OF SERVICE IN APRIL AND MAY 2020

The Strategic Director advised Councillor Whitby that this Decision had been taken by General Exception, that the Officer could confirm that the Chief Executive Officer had informed the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee of the need to take the decision by General Exception. The Strategic Director then presented the report to the Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance.

The Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance thanked the Strategic Director and other Officers involved in resolving this issue.

Councillor Whitby stated that he was happy to formerly accept the report recommendation to:

(i) Approves the compensation payment to garden waste customers and the General Fund budget overspend of up to £84,240

Letter to Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Corporate)

Report of the Strategic Director

Decision Notice
RESOLVED BY THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER FOR CORPORATE AND FINANCE:

That the Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance approves the compensation payment to garden waste customers, and the general fund Budget overspend of up to £84,240.
Published 11/03/2021 16:53:10