It is probably the quietest time of our year with annual billing over, the early recovery runs undertaken, the rush of new benefit claims following annual billing processed and, for this year, the initial interest in the revaluation also subsided. Many offices are quieter than normal, as many of us take our well-earned holidays.
Well, that’s the way it should be, but of course in the revenues and benefits world there is always something on the horizon. Many authorities, and any organisation involved in the provision of housing, are preparing for the rollout of the full service for Universal Credit. Many are also of course fearful of the consequences of this on rental income and other payments such as council tax, utility bills and everyday living costs.
The potential for families to go into debt, especially those who have always paid their way, is worrying, and of course it could well be the landlord or local council that they will turn to, to help them through a difficult period in their lives.
As I say, it should be the time of year when we take a breather, have a break and prepare for the next round of change or implementation of government policy. However, this is not the case for those of you who work within the business rates arena in particular, as you grapple with the latest government idea of the discretionary rate reliefs for pubs, supporting small businesses and the local discretionary fund. This of course was announced in the Budget and included a pot of money amounting to £300m to help small businesses.
However, as it includes a local scheme, there is a lot to do in designing a scheme and consulting on it, which wasn’t helped when the government promptly decided to hold a General Election! Many local authorities are only now going out to consultation on their local scheme. It is therefore very annoying, and worrying, when local authorities receive letters from Marcus Jones effectively berating local authorities for not having a scheme in place. Either relations between his department and local government are at a very low point or he doesn’t fully understand the requirements and the potential for challenge of a local scheme.
The weather has been pretty miserable over the past couple of weeks, but we were fortunate to have fine weather for the national IRRV golf competition, organised by Bob Trahern at Nuneaton Golf Club. We had more players and sponsors than we have had for quite some time and many players were able to take the time to catch up with friends and colleagues from around the country. Whilst it was an excellent day all round, it didn't all go to plan for every player, as the photo (right) testifies. In light of this success, I am looking to hold a golf competition at Oswestry Golf Club on the Monday before our Annual Conference in early October - look out for details.