Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

We’re asking for your views on the future of our Local Council Tax Support scheme (LCTS) to see whether any changes should be made. It’s important we get the views of our residents as it could affect the amount of Council Tax you pay, or the services you receive.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation

Government grant

“The Government gives us a grant to pay Local Council Tax Support which is reducing each year” explains Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra, “if we spend more than the grant, we have to decide how we pay for the excess.”

Making changes

“This year, in addition to looking at how the scheme is funded, we are deciding whether changes should be made to reduce the number of different Council Tax bills that people get when they receive Universal Credit, and whether Bereavement Support Payments should be disregarded. There are also changes to the way that we treat decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).”

Generate savings

Councillor Mohindra said: “We’ve looked carefully at the LCTS scheme and are aiming to providing a fair level of support to those residents on a low income as well as identifying potential changes which would generate savings for the council.

We will of course continue to fully fund support for those who suffer exceptional hardship, and none of the changes would make a drastic change to the amount of council tax individuals would pay.”

Let us know what you think

“Let us know what you think on this important issue” Councillor Mohindra asked residents. “ It takes just 10 minutes to complete the online questionnaire which runs until 12 October 2017.

Any recommendations from this consultation will be considered by Full Council later in the year, with a view to bringing in changes from April 2018.”

Make a detailed reply or comments

If you want to make a detailed reply or comments, email benefits@eppingforestdc.gov.uk and enter ‘consultation’ in the subject heading. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can get a paper copy from the Benefits Division at the Civic Offices.

We cannot respond individually to each response.

Do you know a cheat in your street?

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“If you know or suspect someone is committing fraud you should report them straight away” urges Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra.

Fraud affects everyone. Money stolen by housing tenancy fraud, council tax fraud or business rates fraud is depriving our public services of the vital resources they need.”

Know a cheat in your street?

Report someone you think is committing fraud

Don’t let them get away with it. You can report it anonymously. You don’t have to give your name or contact details unless you want to.

Fraudsters are cheating us all

Housing tenancy fraud – someone who has committed a social housing fraud by

  • illegally sub-letting
  • not living in the property and leaving it empty
  • making a fraudulent Right to Buy application
  • taking (or making) a payment for a mutual exchange
  • living in a property after the tenant has died, where they had no right to succeed
  • giving false or misleading information to get the tenancy

Council Tax fraud – someone who gets a Council Tax discount by falsely

  • stating the property is empty
  • claiming they live alone
  • claiming they are a student
  • claiming Council Tax Support falsely by doing undeclared work or having capital/property in excess of the limit

Business rates fraud – a person or business liable for Business Rates who falsely

  • claims an exemption or relief they are not entitled to

Not a victimless crime

Cllr Mohindra said: “Fraud is not a victimless crime. Don’t think that reporting benefit fraud is wrong or underhand. If a fraudster commits fraud in the Epping Forest district we will use the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to seize and confiscate their assets.”

We need your help

“We constantly look for fraud but no matter how hard we try, we cannot do it alone – we need your help” said Councillor Mohindra.

“Please tell us if you suspect someone is committing fraud by filling in our online form or by calling our fraud investigation team on 01992 564444.”

Technical issues with payment services

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Updated information 26 May 2017 – 1pm

The automated telephone payment service is now working again and all services are now working as normal.

Thank you for your patience and sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Updated information 26 May 2017 – 10am

Great news! Card payment services are now available online and on-site.

We are still experiencing issues with our automated telephone payment service, so this is unavailable at present.

Our systems are being monitored closely by our supplier and we will continue to provide updates on our website as soon as they become available.

Thank you again for your continued patience, we are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Original message 25 May 2017 – 2pm

We are currently experiencing technical issues with our payment services.

Self serve online

We are unable to accept card payments

  • over the phone, including through our automated payment line
  • at our kiosks in Epping, Loughton Broadway, Limes centre Chigwell or Waltham Abbey Library
  • the online payment system

They’re working on it

Our supplier is working hard to resolve the issue as soon as possible and we will update the website as soon as service resumes.

Cash or cheque

If you need to make a payment, we are only able to accept cash or cheque payments at Civic offices in Epping High Street and at the Loughton Broadway office.

Thank you

Thank you for your patience at this time, we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Register for new online self-service

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Epping, Loughton, Media, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

You can now manage your Council Tax and Business Rates accounts online.

Self serve online
 

Self-service is quick and easy 

By registering today you can:

  • Instantly view your account
  • Check payments and other transactions
  • Pay your bill
  • Sign up for Direct Debit

You can also sign-up to receive electronic bills in the future instead of receiving them by post and be able to view all notices that have been previously sent to you.

Manage your finances at a time that suits you

The service is secure, quick and easy to use allowing you to manage your account 24/7 at a time that suits you and your business needs.

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Mohindra said: “We are constantly looking at ways to improve our services and want to make dealing with the council more flexible and convenient for you. By registering online residents can now manage both Council Tax and Business Rates any time of the day 7 days a week. Don’t delay, manage your finances at a time that suits you and register today.”

 

Council Tax set for 2017/18

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Despite a freeze at Epping Forest District Council, most residents will pay more Council Tax from April.

Some town and parish councils are also freezing or lowering their Council Tax but Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and many local town and parish councils are putting their share of Council Tax up.

Council Tax agreed

Councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 21 February agreed the new Council Tax for 2017/18.

Epping Forest District is the local collection authority. Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “I am delighted we have managed to freeze our own share of the Council Tax for the seventh year running. Looking forward it is our ambition to remain a low-tax council giving our residents best possible value for money. I am sorry that bills have gone up overall. I have sympathy for the Police and Crime Commissioner and those councils which have to increase their budgets. I congratulate those town and parish councils like us that have also been able to freeze or even lower their part of the bill.”

“Epping Forest District Council has set another remarkably good budget. Local government finance is incredibly confusing but I hope residents will understand the difference between the Council Tax we collect and the Council Tax we keep.”

Good news budget and 0% increase

Councillor Whitbread covered the main items of the budget including capital investment of up to £125 million over the next 5 years. He said: “We are investing in capital to generate revenue. There is good news everywhere in this budget, good judgement, protection for front line services and good news for our residents.”

The budget found favour with cross party support throughout the Council Chamber.

Rent reductions

Rent paid by thousands of Epping Forest District Council tenants is also set to reduce by one percent in line with national guidelines. The average rent now stands at £96.17 per week.

Invest to Save

Details of the district council budget were set before Cabinet previously – Cabinet 2 February 2017.

Councillor Whitbread said: “We are working better and we are working smarter. Year on year we have become a tighter ship, investing in people, processes and policies to produce the most efficient council we can – a council fit for the future, delivering frontline services our residents need at prices we can afford.”

Know a cheat in your street?

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Crime and safety, Housing, Media, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Every year thousands of pounds of your money is stolen by cheaters, money that should be used to improve your local community.

Don’t let them get away with it.

Report fraud

Know a cheat in your street?

Right now, fraudsters are cheating us all. Here’s how they do it …

Housing tenancy fraud

Someone who has committed a social housing fraud by

  • illegally sub-letting
  • not living in the property and leaving it empty
  • making a fraudulent Right to Buy application
  • taking (or making) a payment for a mutual exchange
  • living in a property after the tenant has died, where they had no right to succeed
  • giving false or misleading information to get the tenancy

Council Tax fraud

Someone who gets a Council Tax discount by falsely

  • stating the property is empty
  • claiming they live alone
  • claiming they are a student
  • claiming Council Tax Support falsely by doing undeclared work or having capital/property in excess of the limit

Business rates fraud

  • A person or business liable for Business Rates who falsely claims an exemption or relief they are not entitled to

Have you spotted a cheater?

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra said: “Have you spotted a cheater? Tell us immediately. Your report will be treated in the strictest confidence and can be given anonymously.”

“Fraud is not a victimless crime. It is taking money from honest taxpayers. Every penny lost to fraud means we have less money to spend on providing the services you want.”

“Spot the cheater and don’t let them get away with fraud!”

Overview and Scrutiny December 2016

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The spotlight was on Transport for London (TFL) and the NHS at the latest meeting of Overview and Scrutiny.

Central Line staffing levels, the possibility of extending tube services from Epping to Ongar and an ‘inadequate’ care rating for Princess Alexandra Hospital, were all subjects for discussion on Monday 19 December 2016.

Following the closure of many of Epping Forest District’s underground station ticket offices earlier this year, Epping Forest District Councillors expressed their concerns about the lack of visible staff presence at off peak times at stations within the Epping Forest district.

Improvements to be made

In response, Chris Taggart (General Manager of the Central Line) and Mark Hart (Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Bakerloo, Victoria and Central lines) explained that TFL intend to improve staff visibility at stations by ensuring staff work in well lit, focal points, to make it easier for customers to find them later in the evening. The changes are already underway, since a recent Travel Watch survey raised similar concerns.

Late night trains

TFL have no current plans to extend the late night train service to Epping, at the very end of the Central Line. The late night trains terminate at Loughton, this being the most appropriate location as the night fleet is small and at Loughton, they are able to turn quickly and easily.

TFL plan to review the late night service in 2017 but say that it has been successful so far and they have had very few issues since starting the new timetable.

Any possibility for an end-to-end service would be subject to further assessments.

Quashed rumours

Rumours that the Central Line may be extended from Epping to North Weald and Ongar were set straight on Monday evening. TFL do not own the North Weald to Ongar part of the railway and so have no jurisdiction over any decision to extend the line. Epping Ongar Railway (EoR) owns this part of the track and any decisions made would be subject to a feasibility study.

Councillors also discussed various issues surrounding high temperatures, quality of ride, frequency of maintenance works, frequency of trains round the ‘loop’ since a recent timetable change and Wi-Fi access.

Princess Alexandra Hospital ‘inadequate’ rating

A line of questioning was agreed by Epping Forest District Councillors before the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 30 January 2017.

At which, Councillors will meet the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust and will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the recent report of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which left the Princess Alexandra Hospital with a quality care rating of ‘inadequate’.

Christmas contact information

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We are closed from 5pm on 23 December 2016 until 9am on 3 January 2017. There are still ways you can get in touch with us when you need to over the Christmas holiday period.

Christmas message from Chairman Jeane Lea

Report it

Report it online (non-emergency) – report missed bin, noise, flytipping, fraud, abandoned vehicle, etc.

Report by email (non-emergency) – emails sent here will not be looked at until 3 January 2017.

Phone (emergency) 01992 564000

Housing repairs (emergency) 01992 564199

Social media

We monitor our main Twitter and Facebook accounts every day.

Pay it

Pay online 24/7 – pay Council Tax, rent, business rates, leasehold charges, etc.

Pay by phone 24/7 01992 564600

Our Debden cash office & Epping kiosk will close at 4:30pm on 23 December 2016 and reopen 9am on 3 January 2017.

Our Waltham Abbey library kiosk is subject to Waltham Abbey library opening hours.

Waste and recycling

Christmas 2016 revised collection dates

  • Collection date Tuesday 27 December 2016 revised to Wednesday 28 December 2016
  • Collection date Wednesday 28 December 2016 revised to Thursday 29 December 2016
  • Collection date Thursday 29 December 2016 revised to Friday 30 December 2016
  • Collection date Friday 30 December 2016 revised to Saturday 31 December 2016

Recycling real Christmas trees

Leave your real Christmas trees with your food and garden waste in January 2017. Remove the pot, all decorations and if over 6ft, cut in half to ensure safe collection.

Special collections

Our special collections service closes at 5pm on 23 December 2016 and resume at 9am on 3 January 2017.

Lost or found dogs

Call 07815 512833 weekdays from 7am to 9pm, weekends and bank holidays from 10am to 7pm.

Car parks

Free weekend parking in December – all of our car parks are free on weekends throughout December and bank holidays.

Epping Forest District Museum

Epping Forest District Museum is closed from 4pm on 22 December 2016 and reopens 10am on 3 January 2017.

Housing benefit payments revised dates

  • Payments due 26 December 2016 will be now be available in bank accounts around 23 December 2016
  • Payments due 02 January 2017 will now be available in bank accounts around 29 December 2016

Normal payment cycle will resume from 9 January 2017.

 

Free weekend parking in December 16

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Parking, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

There will be no pay and display car park charges in Epping Forest District Council car parks in the run-up to Christmas this year!

car parks

It will be free to park in Council car parks on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays throughout December 2016.

Making shopping locally easier

Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller said: ”We have relaxed the car park charges throughout the month of December again this year, to make shopping as easy as possible for our residents in the run up to Christmas.”

Supporting local retailers

He continued: ”We hope that this will help to support our local retailers and town centres too, encouraging our residents to shop locally rather than taking their custom outside the district.”

Our civil enforcement officers will be patrolling as usual and all other conditions of the council car parks will still be in force.

Cabinet 1 December 2016

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Epping, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Parking, Performance, Planning, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The draft Local Plan, changes to the district’s off-street parking and the Council Tax Support Scheme were all subjects for discussion at Cabinet on 1 December 2016.

Changes to draft Local Plan will be public

Responding to a public question at Cabinet on 1 December, Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip gave assurances that all changes to the draft Local Plan would be made public. Councillor Philips said that the council had factored in comments from previous consultation as well as new evidence in formulating the draft Local Plan. He expected further changes to the draft Plan following analysis of the latest consultation. Separately Councillor Philip provided a financial update on the production of the Local Plan.

Partnership savings

Governance Portfolio Holder Councillor Richard Bassett received Cabinet approval to extend the shared Internal Audit arrangements between Epping Forest District Council, Harlow and Broxbourne. Thanks to the partnership, savings of more than £58,000 a year for 2016/17 and 2017/18 have been achieved.

Amendments to Council Tax Support Scheme

Review and amendment to the Local Council Tax Support Scheme and capital budget were presented by Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra. Major capital projects within the £124 million budget include Loughton Shopping Park, St John’s Road and improvements to council housing and new-build housing projects. Many of the Council’s capital projects are aimed towards long term revenue generation, helping Epping Forest District Council become financially self-supporting.

Councillor Mohindra also assured Cabinet colleagues of his determination to achieve value for money with a £100,000 fund to support joint working with other organisations.

Update on Biffa collection costs

Councillor Gary Waller presented a report on domestic waste collection and recycling on behalf of Environment Portfolio Holder Will Breare-Hall. Collection costs have gone up since the introduction of the new Biffa contract. Provision of more recycling sacks combined with cross-contamination reducing income and additional collections due to the building of new houses has led to an increase of £343,000 in the contract.

Changes to off-street parking ahead

“Car parks are essential to our town centres” said Council Leader Chris Whitbread as he welcomed changes to off-street Pay and Display parking. Councillor Waller reported a saving of £58,600 a year from 2017/18 after moving off-street Pay and Display parking enforcement, cash collection and machine maintenance from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL Ltd.

Later on the agenda, Councillor Waller received Cabinet approval to manage Waltham Abbey car parks owned by the Lee Valley Regional Park. He also received approval to demolish and replace garages in Vere Road with 20 new parking spaces. A further 11 spaces are to be created behind shops 49 and 41 in The Broadway.

Planning wait times improved

Residents can expect to see planning decision times improved by up to five days. Councillor Richard Bassett secured Cabinet approval for a new officer and further computerisation to speed up the planning application and validation process.

Town and Village Centres Fund

The Town and Village Centres Opportunities Fund has been renamed the Epping Forest District Economic Opportunities Fund. The rebranding reflects widening the availability criteria beyond town and village centres.