Decision details

Local Council Tax Support Scheme: Proposed Changes

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decisions:

The Director of Resources submitted a report setting out three proposed amendments to the local Council Tax Support Scheme for the 2020/21 financial year. An equality impact assessment for the proposals was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

 

The report summarised the current scheme and the proposed options for changes.  The first proposal was to change the current arrangements where Tax Support was cancelled when customers transitioned to Universal Credit, with customers invited to make a new claim.  In the light of experience it was now proposed to leave the Tax Support claim open and use the existing information to calculate the amount of support.  The second proposal was to clarify how excess Tax Support was dealt with, following a Local Government Ombudsman request to all Local Authorities.  It was proposed to reduce Tax Support where a mistake or error by either the Local Authority or Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had occurred, and increase the Council Tax liability by an equivalent amount.  The reductions would be deemed ‘official error reductions’ and the increased liability considered recoverable, unless the customer could not reasonably have known they were being overpaid, in which case Discretionary Tax Support would be awarded to offset the loss, without the need for a further written application.  The third proposed change was for Severe Disability Premium transitional payments from DWP for people who were receiving Universal Credit to be fully disregarded from both the income and applicable amount used to calculate Council Tax Support.

 

The report explained that the options outlined would reduce administrative processes for both customers and staff and provide clarity about the treatment of excess Council Tax Support.  A statutory consultation was required, and it was proposed to consult for a period of six weeks, and then implement the amended scheme for the next two financial years, unless there were significant changes in the housing benefit scheme during that time.

 

Resolved -

 

(1)      That the following proposals be approved for consultation, with a view to implementation from 1 April 2020:

 

·         To remove the requirement to re-apply for Council Tax Support following the migration to Universal Credit;

·         To disregard Severe Disability Transitional payments in the calculation; and

·         To provide greater clarity on the treatment of excess Council Tax Support;

 

(2)      That, subject to the above amendments, the Council Tax Support Scheme for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years be agreed, unless there were significant changes in the Housing Benefit Scheme that would warrant the same changes needing to be reflected in the Council Tax Support Scheme or other unexpected financial implications arose.

Publication date: 05/12/2019

Date of decision: 18/11/2019

Decided at meeting: 18/11/2019 - Policy Committee

Accompanying Documents: