Revamp for Council Tax Support scheme
A new Council Tax Support scheme that would result in more than 98% of people either seeing no change or being better off is to be considered by Cabinet at their March meeting. The proposal would also include protection arrangements for those that would see a reduction in support under the new scheme.
Changes to the current arrangement, to help people on low incomes to meet their Council Tax bills, have become necessary because of the roll out of Universal Credit.
The proposal is to simplify the process so it is easier to understand and make claims.
According to the proposals 1,167 people will receive an increase in Council Tax support while 13,325 will remain unchanged. Of the total 14,700 customers on Council Tax support, 208 would see a reduction in their award by approximately £3.50 a week.
The proposed scheme significantly simplifies what could have been an otherwise complex process which would have had to be synchronised with Universal Credit.
In the same way that Universal Credit changes depending on a person's income, so too would the Council Tax Support. In the worst case scenario where a person's wages may have changed monthly, it would have meant that Council Tax bills would have to be issued every month as well, each reflecting a higher or lower amount.
The proposal before Cabinet seeks to simplify and standardise the scheme and build in a protection for those who may be worse off after the new scheme is implemented to help them to transition to the new arrangement.
Should Cabinet give the green light on 5 March, the next step would be a consultation with the general public as well as a wide cross section of organisations including those who benefit from a portion of the tax such as the police, fire service and parish councils, voluntary sector, charities and housing associations, among others.
Acting Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Michael Graham, said: "The Council Tax Support scheme came into force in 2013 and has remained largely unchanged since then. We are now reviewing the scheme in light of Universal Credit to ensure that we offer the best possible support for the residents of our district who need this help the most."
Following the completion of the consultation, if the new scheme is approved, it is expected to come into force in April 2020.