In April 2013, the government changed the way in which assistance is provided to council taxpayers on low incomes. This change meant councils had to develop a local scheme and had less funding to do so. The change meant that everyone, except low-income pensioners, had to pay something towards their council tax bills from April 2013.
We introduced our Council Tax Support Scheme in April 2013, whereby council tax benefit was reduced by 30 per cent for working age claimants. This reduction has remained the same since its introduction.
We now need to approve our Council Tax Support Scheme for the financial year 2018/19, and have launched a consultation phase.
Council tax support scheme 2018/19 proposals
1) The council is proposing to keep the current scheme reduction of 30% for all eligible working age claimants.
2) The following amendments are proposed to keep the scheme mirroring the Housing Benefit Scheme as much as possible:
- to limit the award of Council Tax Support based on a maximum of two children;
- to provide protection to existing claims that already include more than two children;
- to make provision for more than two children in the applicable amount where the child tax credit calculation includes additional children; and
- to disregard earnings from part-time fire fighters and payments from the infected blood payment scheme.
In addition to the above proposals, the Council Tax Support scheme for 2018/19 will be subject to annual benefits uprating and feedback received during this consultation.
3) As part of the council acting responsibly in collecting outstanding council tax, there may be instances where people find it difficult to pay. In view of this, we continue to operate a council tax discretionary hardship policy. Primarily the scheme:
- is for those experiencing significant financial hardship
- is for those in receipt of council tax support
- is discretionary and would be subject to demonstrating that effort has been made to control finances and sought advice
- is for applications from the point of introduction, and not for arrears.
It is suggested that any such scheme should link into the council’s Peterborough Community Assistance Scheme (PCAS) arrangements.