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What is the Council Tax Reduction scheme consultation about?

Council Tax Reduction helps those on a low income to reduce their Council Tax charge. We're proposing to change the working age scheme to make it simpler to administer and for customers to understand.

A separate Central Government scheme is retained for people of pension age, so will not be affected by the proposed changes.

Until recently, Council Tax Reduction was assessed and awarded as part of an application for Housing Benefit. Since the introduction of Universal Credit, the traditional link between Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction no longer exists and it's therefore essential that the scheme is changed to:

  • meet future requirements;
  • reduce administration costs, and to;
  • ultimately prevent any additional costs being added to the Council Tax charge for Mid Devon residents.

The current Council Tax Reduction scheme is complex, not up to date and our administration costs are increasing. The government continues to reduce the funding for the scheme and its administration.

Through our proposals, we're aiming for a new scheme that is fairer, simpler and more affordable.

What changes are being proposed?

We're planning to introduce an ‘income grid scheme’, which will cut down on administration costs and make the claiming process for our customers simpler and easier to understand. There's also changes proposed to:

  • the maximum level of support claimants can receive;
  • the number of dependent children included in the assessment;
  • the way we treat claimants who have other adults living with them;
  • the amount of income we can disregard for certain claimants, and;
  • the maximum amount of savings allowed.

Are there any alternatives to the current proposals?

We've also thought about other ways to make the administration simpler. These have not been completely rejected (including maintaining the current scheme), and these are covered in our questionnaire, but, at the moment we don't think we should implement them for the reasons given below.

We have considered

Continuing with the current scheme:

  • This would mean higher administration and scheme costs generally
  • Not making these changes would significantly increase the administration of Council Tax Reduction
  • The current scheme will not work effectively with the Government’s Universal Credit system
  • The multiple changes in Universal Credit will inevitably lead to multiple changes in Council Tax Reduction, thereby increasing the costs for all council tax payers in the District paying towards the scheme
  • The decision to increase Council Tax may need to be made by voting in a local referendum 

Reduced funding to other Council services to pay for additional administration costs:

  • Keeping the current Council Tax Reduction scheme will mean an increase in administration costs and less money available to deliver other Council services

Using our reserves to keep the Council Tax Reduction scheme:

  • Using reserves to fund the additional administration costs would be a short-term option – once used they will no longer be available to support and invest in other Council services and additional cuts would have to be made in the following years

Tell us what you think

The consultation contains full details of all the proposals. This is your chance to have your say before any final decisions are made. The deadline for the consultation is 30 September 2019.

To have your say, you need to complete our online questionnaire. If you're unable to complete this online, we can send you a paper copy. Please contact us to arrange.

Alternatively, call us on 01884 255255 and ask for the Benefits team, or pick up a questionnaire at our offices, see Contact details and opening hours.

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