Hounslow Council


Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow

Contact: Frankie Belloli on 020 8583 2064 or at Email: frankie.belloli@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair and Vice-Chair for 2005/06

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That Councillor Sharma be elected as Chair and Councillor Carey as Vice Chair of the Group for the 2005/06 Municipal Year.

2.

Minutes of the meeting held on 21 December 2004 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 21 December 2004 were confirmed.

3.

Appeals and Assessment Joint Group - Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Minutes:

Robert Della-Sala, the Head of Client Services (Revenues & Benefits), introduced the report, underlining the need to revise the procedure in line with Government guidance and regulations.  The proposal to alter the Group’s role to dealing with appeals rather than applications, was being combined with improvements in the application process itself which would make it easier for applicants to understand and follow. 

 

In response to councillors’ questions, Robert Della-Sala made the following further points:

 

a)     Officers would always remind councillors at meeting of the new panel of the agreed criteria for granting rate relief in the approved policy.  There were sometimes judgements to be made about the category of use of premises; one example was a case in High Wycombe where a public house had applied for rate relief on the basis that it provided community facilities on site in the form of a regular toddlers’ playgroup, accommodation for meetings and the only public pay phone in the area. 

 

b)     Officers would be more enquiring about organisations claiming funds as “restricted” in their accounts; they would be asked to substantiate why these funds could not be applied to rate bills.

 

c)      The eligibility criteria for discretionary rate relief would also be reviewed and such reviews would be conducted annually in future.  

 

The Group agreed that the new panel should have a simpler more accessible name which better described its role.  One suggestion was the Revenues Appeal Panel.  It was confirmed that the Borough Council would formally approve the changes to the terms of reference.

 

Resolved –

 

a)     that the Borough Council be recommended to agree that the AAJG only hear appeals against the refusal of a Discretionary or Hardship Rate Relief application after initially having been reviewed by a Senior Officer.

 

b)     that the Borough Council be recommended to agree that the AAJG hear appeals against the refusal to award a Discretionary Housing Payment after initially having been reviewed by a Senior Officer.

 

c)      that the Borough Council be recommended to adopt the policy on the award process for Discretionary or Hardship Rate Relief applications.

4.

Benefits Policies and Procedures pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the Borough Council be recommended to adopt the following policies and procedures as set out in the report, in relation to the administration of Housing and Council Tax Benefits and National Non Domestic Rates (NNDR):

 

·        Hardship Rate relief – policy and procedure

·        Charitable Discretionary Rate relief – policy and procedure

·        Discretionary Housing Payments – policy and procedure

·        Housing and Council Tax benefits – take-up policy

·        Administration and recovery of Housing Benefit Overpayments – policy and procedure

5.

Date of Next Meeting

Any other items which the Chair accepts for consideration on the grounds of urgency

Minutes:

It was noted that a meeting of the Group would be held on 26 July 2005.