Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2018/19 Consultation Questionnaire
Background to the consultation
What is this consultation about?
Each year the Council has to decide whether to change the Local Council Tax Support scheme for working age applicants in its area. This year, in addition to looking at how the scheme is funded, the Council is deciding whether changes should be made to reduce the number of different Council Tax bills that people get when they receive Universal Credit, whether Bereavement Support Payments should be disregarded, and a minor change to the way that we treat DWP decisions.
What is Local Council Tax Support?
Local Council Tax Support is a discount for Council Tax. The level of discount is based on the income of the household. Currently the maximum discount is 75% of Council Tax for working age households and up to 100% for pensioners.
Why is a change to the Local Council Tax Support scheme being considered?
Until April 2013 there was a national scheme called Council Tax Benefit. The Government made local Councils responsible for replacement schemes from 1 April 2013. The Council is keen to keep Local Council Tax Support aligned with Housing Benefit to assist with administering the scheme. This means that, as Housing Benefit changes, similar changes need to be made to the Local Council Tax Support scheme. Universal Credit is a new benefit that is being introduced but the entitlement can change on a monthly basis, which in turn will produce a council Tax bill every month. The proposed change will reduce the number of different bills sent to one person and to make budgeting easier for them.
Who will this affect?
Working age households in the District who currently receive, or will apply for Local Council Tax Support.
Pension age households will not be affected as Central Government prescribes the scheme for them.
Are there any alternatives for the existing funding of the Local Council Tax Support scheme?
Local Council’s receive a grant from the Government but the grant is reducing each year and it does not fully cover the cost of the scheme. The difference is made up by allowing for the shortfall when setting the annual budget. We have thought about other ways to fund the scheme, make the scheme less generous to make savings, or make it more generous in which case additional funding would need to be found from somewhere. These have not been completely rejected and you are asked about them in the Questionnaire.
We have considered:
1. Increasing the Council Tax for all Council Tax payers
Although this would allow us to make the scheme more generous, the decision to increase Council Tax may need to be made by voting in a local referendum.
2. Reducing funding to other Council services
Making the current Local Council Tax Support scheme more generous will mean less money available to deliver other Council services.
3. Using the Council’s savings to make the Local Council Tax Support scheme more generous
Using savings would be a short-term option. Once used they will no longer be available to support and invest in other Council services.