New Council Tax scheme could cut confusion

People can have their say on a new Council Tax reduction scheme which could offer greater certainty to those on low incomes.

Published: Tuesday, 3rd September 2019

The Government funds local Council Tax Reduction schemes and gives local authorities the power to decide how to implement them, for people of working age. Cherwell District Council is considering moving to a new, simpler Council Tax reduction scheme and a consultation on it opens today, Tuesday 3 September.

The new scheme would assess households’ finances against a Government needs allowance and put them into an income band to determine their level of Council Tax Reduction. Once on the scheme, people would only see changes to their Council Tax Reduction if their income moves out of its original banding.

Cllr Tony Ilott, lead member for finance, said: “Since the introduction of Universal Credit, small changes to a resident’s income can result in frequent changes to their Council Tax Reduction, leading to the issue of a new Council Tax bill. This creates uncertainty for them and incurs extra administration costs for us at the council, because we have to repeatedly reassess their finances.

“Our new Council Tax Reduction scheme would reduce the amount of times we have to change residents’ entitlement, and make it easier for people facing financial difficulties to stay on top of their budgeting.”

The new scheme would offer the same overall amount of support to people on low incomes, although some households would see their level of discount decrease or increase.

As part of the changes, the council proposes to provide a transition fund to support anyone adversely and significantly affected by the changes.

Cherwell’s current scheme gives a maximum level of support of 100 per cent for working age applicants, depending on income and other factors. A separate central Government scheme is retained for people of pension age and councils are not able to set it locally.

All responses and views expressed will be considered as part of this consultation and will help shape the future scheme that will be considered by the council.

People wanting to respond to the consultation are invited to do so via surveymonkey.