Consultation and Customer Satisfaction
Local Council Tax Support Scheme Consultation
We are seeking your views on the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for Ribble Valley Borough Council for 2022-23.
The Local Council Tax Support Scheme (sometimes known as Council Tax Reduction) is to help people on low income to pay their Council Tax. Local Council Tax Support Schemes (LCTS) were introduced from April 2013 when Council Tax Benefit was abolished and replaced by locally agreed schemes. Those of pensioner age are protected by the prescribed regulations set out by central government and are therefore not affected by these changes. By law, councils are required to have a scheme to help people on low incomes to pay their Council Tax. Each year councils need to approve a LCTS for the following 12 months. Where there are changes proposed, it is necessary for a public consultation to take place.
Ribble Valley Bough Council’s current scheme mirrors the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme, however a 12% reduction is applied to the entitlement of claimants of working age at the end of the assessment. We are now proposing to change our scheme for 2022-23 to make it more generous to claimants of working age by removing the 12% reduction that applies at the end of the assessment. We are doing this to bring those of working age back into line with pensioners meaning that those on the lowest income will be able to receive up to a 100% LCTS reduction from 2022-23.
Council Tax Benefit was fully funded by the Government. Councils received 100% subsidy to compensate them for paying out Council Tax Benefit, however this subsidy was reduced by 10% in 2013/14 when Council Tax Support was introduced. Councils had to determine how the remaining 10% would be funded. Options included absorbing the cost in their General Fund, reducing the support paid to working age claimants or from other changes within the Council Tax system. Ribble Valley determined it would be unfair to pass the full cost on to all Council Taxpayers and agreed that this reduction would be partly funded by increasing the council tax payable on second homes and also introduced a 12% reduction in support for working age claimants.
At the onset of the pandemic the Government recognised the impact of Council Tax on the lowest paid and introduced a COVID Hardship discount of up to £150 for working age claimants for one year only in 2020-21. When setting the budget for 2021-22 this council recognised that the removal of the central Government discount would impact the lowest paid in the area and decided to review our LCTS scheme with a view to implementing changes in 2022-23. After considering the significant increases in our tax base that have occurred since 2013 and the small amount of additional Council Tax raised because of the 12% reduction (estimated at £148,498 for 2021-22) the council is proposing removing the reduction in support going forward. This will mean that those working age claimants on the lowest incomes will receive more support with paying their Council Tax and it will reduce administration as many of the bills created because of the reduction were for small amounts that were proportionately more expensive to collect.
The consultation period ran from 25 October until 5 December 2021.
At the meeting of Policy and Finance Committee on 18 January 2022 it was resolved that Committee agree to alter the LCTS scheme for 2022/23 and remove the 12% reduction applied to working age claimants to bring them in line with pensioner age claimants.