Members considered proposed fees and charges to take effect from 1 April 2020 for the year 2020/2021.
At their meeting in October, Prosperous Communities Committee had recommended their fees and charges schedule for approval by the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee.
Since the publication of the agenda pack, there had been a change to one of the proposed charges on the crematorium in relation to the book of remembrance, which was contained within Appendix 15. The original charge had been based on the industry standard of 2, 5, or 8 lines of text within the book; the Crematorium Manager proposed making a charge for 2 lines and then an additional £10 charge for every extra line. It was also proposed to add a charge for every illustration that was requested for the book of remembrance; this would be priced on application.
There had been a full review of fees and charges by Service Managers and their Finance Business Partners, taking into account total cost recovery and benchmarking data to determine whether any increase could be applied to non-statutory charges in line with the Fees and Charges policy. Where possible, a minimum increase of inflation of 3% had been applied, and in some cases a larger increase had been allocated if it had been shown that WLDC were charging in the lower quartile.
There were 41 new charges; 34 of which related to the new crematorium, 4 related to Strategic Housing, 2 to Licensing, and there was one new charge within Planning Services.
4 charges relating to Licensing have decreased to avoid challenge as the reduced charge achieved total cost recovery and brought Licensing charges in line with benchmarking data. There was no impact on budgeted income for this service.
The base Budget for 2020/2021 had increased by £17,600, rising to £24,100 in 2024/2025.
Fees and charges for the crematorium would apply upon its opening to the public.
Following this introduction, Members and officers provided further comment:
· The Crematorium Manager had looked at benchmarking data from the local area, as well as nationally to arrive at the proposed charges. It had been felt that these charges were reasonable;
· The costs of hiring and using the Trinity Arts Centre were now seen as the market rate. This had had an impact on local groups; however officers felt that users were now receiving a more professional service as a direct result of the increased money that had been spent on the venue.
WLDC were looking to increase the amount of money that could be retained from ticket sales. However in the meantime, the market rate would continue to be charged; if groups were struggling to pay this then another method of funding their use of the Trinity Arts Centre could be through a subsidised grant;
· The issues of rates being charged by Trinity Arts Centre was considered by the Prosperous Communities Committee as well as the Community Grants Panel. One of the problems identified was groups hiring the Trinity Arts Centre for rehearsal space, which could have been done at a variety of other venues at a cheaper rate. This study also showed that the space was being hired for longer than was needed;
Finally, the Head of Paid Service agreed to feed back to officers advice from Gainsborough Town Councillors present that fees for burials of under 16s could possibly be recouped through a new fund that had been proposed by Parliament.
(1) Recommend to Council for approval the proposed fees and charges as detailed in Appendices A and B;
(2) Recommend to Council for approval the proposed fees and charges at Appendices 1-3, as well as those recommended by prosperous Communities Committee detailed at Appendices 4-17;
(3) Approve the charges for the Crematorium, which were to include those new charges for the book of remembrance, and that these charges were to apply upon the opening of the Crematorium;
(4) Approve the introduction of the new non-statutory charge within Planning Services called ‘Do I need planning permission?’; this was to be applied from 1 January 2020.