Decision details

COVID-19 Support Fund

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes

Purpose:

To agree the allocation of surplus funds from the Council Tax Covid-19 Hardship Fund

Decision:

NOTED the comments from Councillor Kelcher highlighting the recommendations made by the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee when considering the proposals outlined in the report, at their meeting on 14 July 2020.  Having recognised the economic as well as health and social impact impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on local residents, the Committee had welcomed the proposed establishment of the new support funds and made the following recommendations in support:

·             That the Covid-19 Interest Free Loans eligibility criteria should be extended to include debt;

·             A member development session be arranged on the new support funds and their referral process;

·             That information already held be used to proactively offer advice and support for vulnerable local people;

·             A review of debt collection processes be undertaken in light of Covid-19 to ensure that the circumstances of vulnerable people adversely affected by the pandemic were fully taken into account.

 

Cabinet RESOLVED to

 

(1)    Note the proposals set out in sections 5 and 6 of this report to introduce two new support funds using the surplus money from the Council Tax: COVID-19 Hardship Fund 2020-21.

 

(2)    To approve the establishment of a grant facility to assist Brent residents financially impacted by Covid-19 as set out in section 5 of the report (“Covid-19 Support Fund Grant”).

 

(3)    To delegate to the Strategic Director for Customer Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform authority to agree eligibility criteria for the Covid-19 Support Fund Grant above and thereafter administer and award grants.

 

(4)    To approve the establishment of an interest free loan arrangement to assist Brent residents financially impacted by Covid-19 as set out in section 6 of the report (“Covid-19 Support Fund Loan”).

 

(5)    To approve payment to the Credit Union of such sums remaining in the Council Tax – COVID – 19 Hardship Fund 2020 – 21 and at such frequency as the Director of Finance considers appropriate from which Covid-19 Support Fund Loans will be made and delegates to the Director of Finance in consultation with the Director of Legal, HR, Audit and Investigations authority to finalise the terms of the investment.

 

(6)    To delegate to the Strategic Director for Customer Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform authority agreement of the final eligibility criteria based on the draft eligibility criteria in Appendix 2 for the Covid-19 Support Fund Loan and thereafter administer it in association with the Credit Union.

 

(7)    To delegate to the Strategic Director for Customer Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform authority to review and agree revised eligibility criteria for both the Covid-19 Support Fund Grant and the Covid-19 Support Fund Loan for the reasons detailed in paragraphs 5.16 and 6.19 of the report.

 

(8)    To support and approve the following recommendations made by the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee being taken forward as part of the development and implementation of the new support funds:

 

(a)    That the Covid-19 Interest Free Loans eligibility criteria be extended to include debt;

 

(b)    A member development session be arranged on the new support funds and their referral process;

 

(c)    The Strategic Director, Customer & Digital Services be requested to consider how best to proactively use data already available to offer advice and support for vulnerable local people; and

 

(d)    The Strategic Director, Customer & Digital Services be requested to undertake a review of debt collection processes in light of Covid-19 to ensure that the circumstances of vulnerable people adversely affected by the pandemic were fully taken into account.

Reason Key: Affects more than 2 wards;

Wards Affected: (All Wards);

Contact: Asha Vyas, Head of Customer Access, Management (Customer Services) Email: asha.vyas@brent.gov.uk Tel: 020 8937 2705.

Report author: Asha Vyas

Publication date: 21/07/2020

Date of decision: 20/07/2020

Decided at meeting: 20/07/2020 - Cabinet

Effective from: 28/07/2020

Accompanying Documents: