Cabinet Member: Cabinet Member for Croydon Renewal, Councillor Stuart King
Officer: Interim Director of Finance, Investment & Risk, Chris Buss
Key decision: no
The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:
1. To approve the fees and charges set out in Appendix 1 of the report;
2. Note that the charging policy for Adult Social Care has been amended with effect from 12 April 2021 under delegated authority as set out in paragraph 3.13 of the report;
3. To note that a report will be brought to Full Council reviewing the process and delegations for setting fees and charges;
4. To note that work is being undertaken to reconfigure the way fees and charges are presented on the council website so that they are presented in a user-friendly way that ensures they are easy to find in relation to each area of business and that enables customers to progress transactions easily;
5. To note that further increases to fees and charges will be brought forward for decision as proposals are developed; and
6. To have due regard to the equalities impact assessment at Appendix 2 of the report in making the decisions set out in these recommendations.
The Cabinet Member for Croydon Renewal (Councillor Stuart King) informed Cabinet that most increases detailed in the report were to cover inflation, with a couple being catch-up increases following a period of no change. It was noted that the last review had taken place in 2018 and good practice was to review fees and charges on an annual basis. In this regard, the Cabinet Member reflected that there were elements of poor practice within the council which had come to light as part of the review and were being addressed; such as ensuring charges covered overheads and not just direct costs. Furthermore, it was suggested that payment in advance should be the default position, where possible, to ensure the fees were collected before a service was delivered.
It was further stated by the Cabinet Member that improvements would be made in the residents experience; including the details of the fees and charges being more easily identifiable on the council’s website.
It was noted that not all charges were included within the report; such as licensing charges would be considered by the Licensing Committee and that a further review was underway with a subsequent report to Cabinet due later in the municipal year.
The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Croydon (Councillor Muhammad Ali) queried whether benchmarking had taken place against other London councils. In response, the Cabinet Member for Croydon Renewal confirmed the council was comparing its fees and charges compared to other councils. It was recognised that more benchmarking was required across the council and was only able to charge a fee which recovered the cost of the service and as such the proposed changes were only to recover costs and were not to generate profits. The Finance Consultant (Ian O’Donnell) confirmed that he had spoken to the responsible officers and that the majority were undertaking benchmarking exercises. Furthermore, he had undertaken a benchmarking review against those charges which were published on council’s websites and following that exercise he was able to confirm that the council was broadly charging what other authorities were charging. It was reiterated that the law restricts the council from making a profit and the council could only charge up to the amount it cost to provide the service.
Concerns were raised by the Shadow Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety & Business Recovery (Councillor Andy Stranack) that the proposed increases would impact the voluntary sector and noted that the charge to hire sport pitches was proposed to be increased by 15% which may lead to local football clubs suffering from financial difficulties. In response, the Cabinet Member for Croydon Renewal stated that it was difficult to understand why the Opposition felt that an elderly resident should subsidise activities such as a developer’s street naming costs. It was reiterated that the charges were to recover costs only and suggested that those involved in using the Purley Way football pitch would understand that the charge was meet the full costs of using the pitch.
The Leader of the Council delegated ... view the full minutes text for item 73