St Albans City and District Council has launched a consultation on proposed changes to council tax benefits.
Currently the District Council administers council tax benefits in accordance with criteria set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The District is reimbursed by the DWP for this.
From April 2013 this arrangement will be replaced by a local council tax support scheme. The new scheme will be funded by a fixed Government grant which is expected to be set at approximately 90% of current council tax benefits expenditure.
The Council is consulting on a scheme where the local council tax support given is matched to the central Government funding.
Various principles underpin the proposed local support scheme. These are:
1 That the most vulnerable low income residents will be protected. These include low income pensioners and families with children under 5; people who receive a carer’s allowance, people who meet certain disability criteria; people with a war disablement pension or war widow’s pension.
2 That everyone else will pay something towards the cost of council tax. The Council’s proposal is that everyone will pay something towards their council tax, except for the most vulnerable people mentioned above. This means that the maximum council tax discount available to others will be 70%. Under the current benefits system, council tax discounts can be up to 100%. Some people who currently do not directly pay any council tax, therefore, will pay something towards their bill under the proposed scheme.
3 That the scheme will incentivise work. Under the proposed scheme, those benefit recipients who are in work will keep more of their income before the benefits means-test is applied.
4 That non-dependant adults in a household will contribute towards council tax. Under the current arrangements, there is an allowance provided for such adults. In future, the proposals mean that they would be expected to contribute to their household’s council tax bill.
Cllr Brian Ellis, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing said: “The Council is required by Government to develop a Local Council Tax Support scheme to replace Council Tax Benefit. We want to make sure that the scheme we are proposing is fair, does not over-burden tax payers, and follows agreed principles such as protecting the most vulnerable people, and incentivising work. Making decisions about changes that affect people’s incomes is not easy, particularly as people who receive benefits are by definition those on low incomes.”
To participate in the consultation and to see the Local Council Tax Support scheme proposals, please visit www.stalbans.gov.uk/consultations
. Alternatively, pick up a copy of the consultation survey at the Council’s reception desk. To receive a copy at home, please contact email@example.com, telephone 01727 819501.
The consultation is open until 30 September 2012. The Council will also be conducting a postal survey of 4,000 district households and focus group research with affected groups. We will also be holding a number of information events around the district in September. More details about these events will be available shortly.
The final scheme will be implemented from April 2013. Before implementation, the Council will be doing all it can to help those affected to adjust to the new arrangements.
Cllr Brian Ellis, Portfolio Holder for Housing, St Albans City and District Council.
Tel: 01582 767621
Contact for the media:
Claire Wainwright, Principal Communications and Marketing Officer
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819572