Council Tax Support scheme

Closes 27 Sep 2019

Opened 15 Aug 2019

Overview

Background information and scheme summary

What is this consultation about?

Each year the council has to decide whether to change the Council Tax Support scheme for working age applicants in its area. This year the council is considering making some important changes to the Council Tax Support scheme making it more supportive for those on the lowest income. It would also bring the scheme in line with some changes made by central government within Housing Benefit and Universal Credit. The proposed changes to the scheme are designed to take a more preventative, proactive and caring approach to support people at times when they are struggling, for example when they have experienced a bereavement. This can put pressure on health and social care services potentially creating greater costs further down the line.                   

What is Council Tax Support?

Under South Ribble Borough Council’s current scheme all working age households have to pay at least £3.50 per week as a minimum payment, irrespective of the level of their income or Council Tax liability. The level of discount is based on the income of the household.

Pensioners are protected under the scheme set by central government and may receive up to 100% support.

Why is a change to the 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 committed to protecting our most vulnerable applicants and would now like to increase the financial assistance available to them by removing the current £3.50 per week charge.

As the council is keen to keep Council Tax Support aligned with major benefits such as Housing Benefit and Universal Credit to assist in administration and be fairer to all, this means that, as those benefits change, similar changes need to be made to the Council Tax Support scheme.

In addition, the council is keen to protect those applicants who are claiming certain benefits and on the lowest income. In particular those applicants who receive the following:

  • Income Support;
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • Universal Credit where the applicant receives the maximum award (and the applicant has no other income apart from disregarded income such as Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Maintenance or War Pension);
  • New Style Job Seeker’s Allowance or New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit (and the applicant has no other income apart from disregarded income such as Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Maintenance or War Pension); or
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance or New Style Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (and the applicant has no other income apart from disregarded income such as Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Maintenance or War Pension)

Who will this affect?

Working age households in the borough who currently receive or will apply for Council Tax Support. Pension age households will not be affected as central government prescribed the scheme.

Why are we proposing to change the current scheme?

We have considered continuing with the current scheme. However, this would mean:

  1. The current scheme adversely affects low income working age applicants on certain benefits;
  2. our most vulnerable applicants are not protected to the level that we would like;
  3. the scheme would include, as income or capital, certain payments which are now disregarded from all other welfare benefits;
  4. higher administration costs, relating to council tax billing and recovery.

What happens next?

The consultation closes at midnight on 27th September 2019

We will listen carefully to what residents tell us and take the responses into consideration when making a final decision on the 2020/21 scheme.

Following the decision, the full results from the consultation will be available on the council's website.

The new scheme will start on 1 April 2020. The council will consider the impact of the scheme annually and consult again if it thinks further changes need to be made.

Paper copies can be requested by calling 01772 421491 or in person from the Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland, PR25 1DH

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