Bath & North East Somerset Council has approved revisions to the local Council Tax Support Scheme for people of working age at its meeting on November 10.
The current scheme was implemented in April 2013, when the Government ended the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme and passed responsibility for designing local Council Tax Support schemes to Local Authorities. At that time Bath & North East Somerset Council implemented a scheme which took into account a reduction in government funding, and the rules have since remained the same. The Council has reviewed the current scheme and is proposing to make some changes from April 2017.
The new scheme, which is designed to be fair and easier to understand by recipients, will target more support at those on lowest incomes – increasing the maximum Council Tax discount from 78% to 90%. The changes will be introduced gradually – with current recipients only moving onto the new scheme when they transfer to Universal Credit or their financial circumstances change.
The revisions have been developed following consultation with local advice agencies and support organisations. The Council also wrote to the 5,500 people of working age across Bath and North East Somerset currently claiming Council Tax Support, asking for their views.
Councillor Charles Gerrish (Conservative, Keynsham North), Cabinet Member for Finance and Efficiency, said: “Our scheme aims to protect the most vulnerable by providing help with Council Tax payments to those on the lowest incomes, whilst at the same time maximising incentives for people to work.
“These changes will not mean that the overall financial support available to residents will reduce – they are simply about ensuring the system is fair and easy to understand, with more support targeted at those on the lowest income. At the same time, we will be bolstering the Council’s Welfare Support Scheme to provide more tailored support to those who may need it. This means the Council can ensure those most in need receive more targeted, effective and longer-term assistance.”
Key features of the revised scheme:
- Residents currently receiving Council Tax Support will stay on the old scheme until they move on to Universal Credit. Their eligibility will be based on entitlement to Universal Credit.
- The maximum amount of support available is determined by income bands.
- The maximum support available to all working-age claimants will be set at around 90% of the Council Tax bill.
- Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments is not counted as part of an applicant’s household income when calculating entitlement to support.
- The housing cost element of Universal Credit is considered as income when calculating support.
- Self-employed applicants declaring unrealistic income are assessed at the national living wage income.
- People with capital / savings of over £6,000 won’t be eligible for Council Tax Support in line with the lower capital limit of Universal Credit, though this does not include the value of the property you are living in.
The revised scheme will not affect pensioners.
The revised scheme will start on 1 April 2017.