The proposed fees and charges for 2020/21 are attached for Members’ consideration.
This report was pre-scrutinised by the Budget Scrutiny Working Group in December 2019. A recommendation proposed on this subject by the group is also attached for the consideration of the Executive Committee.
This report is also due to be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee due to take place on Thursday 9th January 2019. Any recommendations arising from this meeting will published for Members’ consideration in an additional papers pack for this meeting.
The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources presented the proposed fees and charges for 2020/21. The fees and charges had been reviewed in detail by Heads of Service in the preparation of the report. Officers were requesting delegated authority to vary fees and charges for Leisure and Cultural Services by 20% and Bereavement Services by 25%.
Members discussed the fees and charges report in some detail and in so doing noted the following:
· The circumstances under which Officers might need to vary fees and charges for Leisure and Cultural Services and Bereavement Services. Officers highlighted the case of sporting activities where a small number of people had booked to participate as an example where fees could be reduced to incentivise other people to participate to the benefit of their health and wellbeing.
· The need for the Council to consider supply and demand when varying fees for Leisure and Cultural Services and Bereavement Services. Officers confirmed that the Council would aim to avoid pricing the Council out of the market.
· The criteria that would be applied by Officers in respect of the requested authority to vary fees and charges by 20% for Leisure and Cultural Services and 25% for Bereavement Services.
· The need for the officers with expertise in Bereavement Services and Leisure and Cultural Services to have some flexibility. Members noted that this might enable these services to operate more efficiently.
· The need for transparency in setting fees and charges for services. Concerns were raised that the requested authority to vary fees for Bereavement Services and Leisure and Cultural Services would not enhance transparency.
· The benefits of providing the ability to vary fees for Bereavement Services as rapid technological changes made it difficult to benchmark charges for some services and would allow officers to amend charges where needed mid-year.
· The proposed £15 registration fee for Dial a Ride and how frequently this would apply. Officers explained that this would be an annual fee.
· The consultation that had been undertaken with customers of the Dial a Ride service about changes to the fees. Officers explained that customers had been consulted in the summer of 2019 and the majority had recognised the need to increase fees.
· The estimated income from the increase to fees for the Dial a Ride service. The Committee was informed that the Council currently received £52,000 income from the service and the increase in fees would result in a corresponding increase in income up to £64,000.
· The increase in fees for the Shopmobility service and the income this would generate. Officers advised that this would lead to an increase of £44,000 in income for the service.
· The fees listed for the Garden Waste Service and whether these were new or existing charges. The Committee was informed that the fees applied to new households and that there were existing fees for the service which had been delivered by the Council for some time.
· The reduction in the fee for the supply of logs per cubic metre. Members were advised that this service was no longer provided by the Council.
· The service charge for the sheltered schemes. Officers explained that a mistake had been made in the report and a charge should have been recorded for this service at £3.
· The charges that would apply for repairs to Council houses and when charges would apply. The Committee was advised that charges would be applied in accordance with the requirements set out in the Tenants Handbook and Recharge Policy and would apply to wilful damage but not to wear and tear.
· The new charge of £17 proposed for the personal care package at St David’s House and the reasons for introducing this charge. Members were informed that this charge had been in place for some time and was set at a level suggested by Worcestershire County Council. Officers had concluded that the charge should be included in the report to ensure transparency.
· The reasons why the concessionary charges for football appeared to have been removed from the report.
During consideration of this item Members noted that the fees and charges 2020/21 report had been pre-scrutinised by both the Budget Scrutiny Working Group and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at meetings held on 2nd December 2019 and 9th January 2020 respectively. Based on detailed scrutiny of the report, the Budget Scrutiny Working Group had proposed that to help provide clarity for Members more detail needed to be included in the fees and charges report in future years. Members concurred that this proposal would be helpful as the style of the report was in places confusing. For this reason the proposal from the group was approved.
1) all of the proposed fees and charges as set out in Appendix 1 be approved;
2) discretion on Leisure services and Bereavement Services fees and charges throughout the financial year 2020/21 be approved. The discretion is requested to be up to 20% (either increase or decrease) for Leisure services and 25% (either increase or decrease) for Bereavement services against the charges as detailed in the report. However, the fees and charges should still remain within the industry and regional norms for the activities provided.
3) all fees and charges that are included in Appendix 1 are charged commencing 1st April 2020.
more detail should be included in the fees and charges reports in the future and there should be greater reconciliation between the old and new fees for a service in the report to help clarify how they relate to each other.