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Local Council Tax Support Scheme - 2020/21

Date of consultation: Monday, July 22, 2019 - Friday, August 30, 2019

Consultation summary

Stroud District Council is asking residents, the major precepting authorities (Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner) and key stakeholders, for their views on Council Tax Support and options to update the current scheme.

There are nearly 3,000 working age claimants in the district who receive Council Tax Support. Many are unemployed or unable to work and will receive 100 per cent Council Tax Support meaning that they do not pay any Council Tax. Other recipients receive Council Tax Support based on the income they have.

We currently allow all working age people to claim up to 100 per cent support towards their Council Tax, depending on their income and household circumstances and have maintained that level of support since 2013, despite the reduction in government funding. Latest Government statistics show that nationally just 37 councils continue to provide this support.

The working-age case count and subsequent cost to the authority of the local scheme has been reducing, although there remains a risk in future years that the cost of the scheme may increase (due to changes in Council Tax rates and caseload).

Further background information

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 abolished Council Tax benefit. Under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 local authorities are required to develop a local Council Tax Support scheme which protects pensioners.

Most of the Gloucestershire districts have adopted the “default scheme” since 2013/14 which basically mirrors the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme and has meant no changes. All the Gloucestershire Districts are currently consulting on a scheme for 2020/21. 

Council Tax Support for pension age customers can not be reduced.

As the billing authority, we must consult any major precepting authority such as Police and Crime Commissioner and Gloucestershire County Council. We should also consult such other persons that are likely to have an interest in the operation of the scheme such as Citizens Advice and other support agencies.

The consultation is about changes to the Council Tax Support scheme for 2020/21.  We are eager to hear the views of a cross section of people across the Stroud District.

Local Council Tax Support Scheme - 2020/21 consultation

Proposed changes to the scheme

Income band 1 is those claimants on “passported” benefit:  Income support (IS), Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance Income-related (ESAIR) who currently receive 100% Council Tax Support (CTS). Adopting this scheme will ensure we continue to protect the most vulnerable of claimants enabling them to still receive that maximum support.

The amount of Council Tax reduction that a working age customer receives is based on the amount of income that they and any partner receive. This will place the customer in an income band, and the band will determine the amount of support that a person is entitled to.

We also need to modernise and make changes to the current scheme so that it works together with the changes that are being made at a national level with the introduction of Universal Credit (UC). People who have made the transition to UC have their entitlement to this recalculated each month, taking into account any fluctuations in income. As UC is income for the purposes of CTS, a change also has to be made to the person’s CTS. This then results in revised changes to council tax instalments every month which can make budgeting very difficult for those customers.

As more people claim UC or transfer to it, the need to revise the CTS scheme and simplify the administration, and make the claiming process easier and simpler, becomes more pressing.

The table below shows the income bands and the maximum amount that Council Tax will be reduced by:

 

Income Band

Weekly income (£)

% entitlement

No. of

Claims

Council Tax default scheme (£)

Annual After (£)

Annual Savings (£)

1 (passported)

100

1,378

1,529,171

1,529,171

0.00

2

0.00 – 124.00

100

126

129,857

117,223

25,971

3

124.01 – 155

80

130

124,317

94,454

24.863

4

155.01 – 206

60

215

195,017

117,010

78.007

5

206.01 – 258

40

262

232,521

93,008

139,513

6

258.01 – 309

20

255

216,703

43,341

173,363

7

309.01 +

0

731

498,681

0.00

498,681

 

2,924,267

1,983,869

940,398

               

 

 

We will use the information collected from this consultation to help make our decision on the changes to the Council Tax Support scheme from 1 April 2020.

The results from the consultation will be published here later this year.

Work will take place to design a revised Council Tax Support scheme which will be considered as a full council meeting in October 2019. The scheme will then be reflected as a discount on Council Tax bills for 2020/21.

 

Give us your views

The council is inviting any views, comments or feedback and this can be done by emailing benefit.services@stroud.gov.uk by Friday 30 August 2019.   

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