Agenda item

Fees and Charges Policy Review (Decision: 110658)


Councillor Snell introduced the report. He explained that the Council’s difficult financial position is by now well-known and the Council is reviewing and revising all financial plans as a consequence. Councillor Snell confirmed the report proposes a fees and charges policy is adopted, which sets out when they will be reviewed. The Council has around 1099 fees and charges and therefore some of the review process could take up to 3 years to complete. The review process has been broken down into 3 stages. Councillor Snell confirmed that some benchmarking has been completed already. The changes proposed will take effect from October of this year and the aim is for full cost recovery for discretionary services. The fees and charges in stage 2 of the review will take effect in April 2024. Councillor Snell confirmed that the feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Committees was that the fee increases were not universally welcomed although the recommendations were passed through majority voting. Objections were mainly that members did not want to put any more costs on to residents who had already had a 9.99% increase to their Council Tax. Councillor Snell commented that due to previous administrations avoiding increasing fees in the past and desperately trying to find alternative forms of revenue that the Council finds itself in this position.


Councillor Carter commented that he attended the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee and it was noted that Thurrock are not charging as much as neighbouring Local Authorities for the same services and Thurrock has a lot less fees and charges overall. Councillor Carter noted that Thurrock may not be charging for services that other Local Authorities are charging for and queried if the portfolio holder will be looking at this later on in the review.


Councillor Snell responded that they would be looking at this but there were approximately 1000 fees and charges and although the benchmarking work had started it was a very big piece of work.


Councillor B Johnson commented that he welcomed the new policy as the previous one was not fit for purpose and urged officers to complete the review as quickly as possible.


Councillor B Maney commented that the Council should have been doing this anyway and not just because of the financial position the Council is in. If other Local Authorities are doing it, it probably is best practice.


The Leader stated that this is part of the road to recovery for the Council and he welcomed the report and the further work the finance team will be completed. It is about charging the appropriate rate and charging for things the Council should be charging for.


1.             RESOLVED:


1.1          That Cabinet agree the proposed Fees and Charges policy, Appendix 1, in particular agreeing the commitment to full cost recovery and annual CPI inflation increases as the default.

1.2          That Cabinet agree the proposed Fees and Charges increases for the material areas, Appendix 2.

1.3          That Cabinet consider the feedback & additional information from all Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings and additional meetings held in relation to Fees and Charges, Appendix 4.

1.4          That Cabinet agree the proposed new Charges in section 8 of this report.

1.5          That Cabinet note the requirement for a further detailed review & analysis of remaining Fees and Charges by Quarter 4 2023/24.


Reason for decision: as outlined in the report

This decision is subject to call-in


Supporting documents: