Introduction

Each year, the Council needs to review its Council Tax Support (“CTS”) scheme, to ensure it not only meets the needs of the local area, but also that it continues to be affordable. To date, in broad terms the Council has chosen to maintain the same level of support for working age customers, meaning that those on the lowest income can receive a maximum 100% support towards their Council Tax bill.

This year the Council is consulting on some comparatively minor changes to the CTS scheme that would benefit claimants, primarily to extend the backdating provisions and to keep the scheme in line with the Housing Benefit Scheme, ensuring consistency and reducing confusion.

 1.   Remove the backdating time constraint for working age people from the scheme.

Currently, claims for Council Tax Support can be backdated for a period of up to one month, where a claimant can prove “good cause” that they could not claim at an earlier time. By removing the time constraint, relevant customers would receive Council Tax Support for a longer period.

The benefits of doing this are:

-  Customers would receive CTS for all periods to which they are entitled if they can show good cause.

- It would help avoid difficulties for those unaware of the new rules surrounding Universal Credit and the need to claim CTS separately

- It would help prevent customers from being penalised due to fluctuations in their income, especially Universal Credit  

The drawbacks of doing this are:

- Marginal cost to the Council 

* 1. Do you think the backdating time constraint should be removed for new working age claimants?

2.   Disregarding the new Bereavement Support payments for working age applicants.

The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced a new benefit for any working age applicant whose partner dies.  This is called Bereavement Support payment and replaces Bereavement Payments, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parents Allowance.  By making this change the Council would be able to disregard any amounts paid out, in the calculation of Council Tax Support. The payments are currently disregarded in other benefits such as Housing Benefit.

The benefits of doing this are:                                                                

- The change would help claimants who have recently lost a partner

- It brings the CTS scheme in line with housing Benefit changes made by Central Government

The drawbacks of doing this are:

- Marginal cost to the Council 

* 2. Do you think Bereavement Support payments should be disregarded for working age claimants?

3.   Disregarding new Emergency Funds for working age applicants.

The Department for Work and Pensions has decided, since the tragedies in Manchester and London, to disregard the “We Love Manchester Emergency Fund” and the “London Emergency Trust” payments from the calculation of Housing Benefit.  By matching this change the Council would be able to disregard any amounts paid in the calculation of Council Tax Support.  This would also apply to any future emergency funds in line with Housing Benefit regulations. 

The benefits of doing this are:

- The change would help claimants who have been affected by the tragedy

- It brings the CTS scheme in line with Housing Benefit changes made by Central Government

The drawbacks of doing this are:

- Marginal cost to the Council

* 3. Do you think Emergency Funds should be disregarded for working age claimants?

* 4. Is there anything else you think the council should consider in reviewing its Council Tax Support Scheme?

Thank you for your valuable contribution. 

The Council will consider the feedback received when finalising its CTS scheme for next year.  The final decision on the scheme is expected to be made in December 2017.

T