Council Tax Reduction Changes 1 April 2016

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Council Tax Reduction Changes 1 April 2016

From 1 April 2016 all working age households will be required to pay a minimum of 20% towards their Council Tax.

Changes to Council Tax Reduction effective from 1 April 2016

From 1 April 2016, there will be two changes to how the Council calculate your Council Tax Reduction.

  • A new Working Age Council Tax Reduction Scheme will come into effect requiring all working age households, including those currently in receipt of; job seekers allowance, income support and employment and support allowance to pay a minimum of 20% towards their Council Tax.

  • Council Tax Reductions for Self Employed applicants will be calculated using the UK minimum wage as a Minimum Income Floor (MIF) when calculating any entitlement. This means, for any self-employed person applying for council tax reduction the council will assume a Gross Weekly Income of at least the minimum wage multiplied by 35 hours.

Why are we doing this?

From 1 April 2013, Council Tax Benefit was abolished and every Council had to replace it with a local Council Tax Reduction scheme.  At this time Central Government, who previously funded Council Tax Benefit in full also reduced the funding available for local Council Tax Reduction schemes leaving Local Authorities having to fund the shortfall. 

The Council Tax Reduction scheme introduced was agreed by all authorities in East Sussex and since then we have continued to work together on this county-wide scheme. Due to continued  cuts in Government funding and a need to strike an appropriate balance between protecting those on low incomes and still maintaining essential services it has been decided that from 1 April 2016 less support will be provided by the scheme. These changes were approved at Full Council on 14 December 2015 

How much will I have to pay?

We have provided calculations below to give you an idea of how much 20% of your Council Tax bill could be, based on the average Council Tax rate for the district. However if you are also affected by the changes to how Self-employed income is treated then the amount you will pay is likely to be more. Unfortunately we are unable to give you an idea as how much extra you will be required to pay at this time as your personal circumstances effect this part of the calculation. 

 

Property BandExpected Yearly PaymentWeekly ContributionExpected Payment with a single person discountWeekly Contribution

A

£219.85

£4.23

£164.89

£3.17

B

£256.50

£4.93

£192.37

£3.70

C

£293.14

£5.64

£219.85

£4.23

D

£329.78

£6.34

£247.34

£4.76

E

£403.07

£7.75

£302.30

£5.81

F

£476.35

£9.16

£357.26

£6.87

G

£546.64

£10.51

£412.23

£7.93

H

£659.56

£12.68

£494.67

£9.51

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

1. What is Council Tax?

2. Who has to pay Council Tax?

3. What is Council Tax Reduction?

4. Why was Council Tax Benefit replaced by Council Tax Reduction?

5. 'Working age household': What do you mean by this? 

6. Why do these changes not affect pensioners?  

7. Who decided Rother's 2016-17 working age scheme?

8. I've never paid Council Tax before. Is there an easy way to make payments?

9. Are there other ways of paying Council Tax?

10. I'm on benefits and I can't afford to pay anything. How will I manage?

11. How do I contact CAB?

12. What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax ?

13. What is the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) and how will it affect my Council Tax Reduction?  

14. What if I am self-employed on a part time or seasonal basis?

15. What is the National Minimum Wage?

16. I think that my Council Tax Reduction entitlement is incorrect. How do I appeal?

17. What is the Exceptional Hardship fund?

 

1. What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a local tax on domestic properties which the Council set based on a property's valuation band. Each home is placed in one of eight valuation bands based on its value at 1st April 1991 or equivalent value for properties constructed after this date.

The Council is responsible for collecting Council Tax and this money helps fund local services, provided by Rother District Council, East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

For more information on Council Tax, please see our Council Tax page.

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2. Who has to pay Council Tax?

Council Tax is usually paid by the occupier(s) of a property. The full tax assumes that there are at least two adults living in the property. If there is only one occupant, they are eligible for a single person discount of 25%. Council tax is also paid by the property owner where the property is unoccupied.

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3. What is Council Tax Reduction?

Council Tax Reduction helps people who have a low income pay their Council Tax. It replaced Council Tax Benefit with effect from 1 April 2013.

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4. Why was Council Tax Benefit replaced by Council Tax Reduction?

From 1 April 2013 Council Tax Benefit was abolished and every Council had to replace it with a new local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for working age residents. Support for Pensioners is maintained by national rules

Central Government previously funded Council Tax Benefit in full but from April 2013, the Government has reduced the funding available for local Council Tax Reduction schemes. This funding does not increase, even if more people claim or the Council Tax charge increases.

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5. 'Working age household': What do you mean by this? 

For the purpose of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Working age is anybody who has not reached the qualifying age for state Pension Credit

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6. Why do these changes not affect pensioners?  

The Government have stated that low‐income pensioners who receive support with

Council Tax cannot be expected to increase their income through paid work.  Therefore support for Pensioners is maintained by national rules set by parliament.

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7. Who decided Rother's 2016-17 working age scheme?

Rother District Council consulted with its residents from 27 July 2015, through to Wednesday 23 September 2015.  The consultation was accessible on the Council's website.

Invitations to take part in the consultation were also sent to more than 20,000 Rother District residents through 'My Alerts' emails, the Rother Citizens Panel membership plus direct contact was made with local voluntary advice organisations. Based on the results of the Consultation Rother Districts Full Council approved the scheme for 2016/17 on 14 December 2015.

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8. I've never paid Council Tax before. Is there an easy way to make payments?

The Council's preferred method of payment is by direct debit. You can pay on either the 8th, 17th or 25th of the month and payment may be over 10 or 12 months. Direct debit is the simplest way to pay, as once you've set it up, there's no need to remember your payments each month. You can also set up a direct debit if you have a basic bank account. A direct debit instruction will be included with your Council Tax bill.

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9. Are there other ways of paying Council Tax?

Your Council Tax bill lists all the ways you can pay but none are as easy as Direct Debit. Alternative methods of payment can also be found on our Methods of Payment page.

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10. I'm on benefits and I can't afford to pay anything. How will I manage?

We strongly advise anyone with financial problems to contact Rother District Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) who can provide guidance and support to help you manage your money.

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11. How do I contact CAB?

The CAB offices are located at Bank Chambers, Buckhurst Road, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1QF. They can be contacted by phone on 01424 215055 or 01424 734549.  Details on the advice provided by Rother District CAB can also be found on their website at www.citizensadvice1066.co.uk.

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12. What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax ?

It is important that you contact the Council as soon as possible if you are experiencing problems in paying your Council Tax.

In the interests of all Council Taxpayers, the Council has to take recovery action if payments are not received by the due dates. This action will result in the cancellation of the instalment facility and lead to legal action for the recovery of the total amount outstanding.

If such action is necessary then this will result in additional costs of £100.00 relating to the issuing of a Court Summons and obtaining a Liability Order. If the Council is granted a Liability Order by the Magistrates then the Council may seek to recover the outstanding debt from you by an attachment to your earnings or benefits or your case may be passed to an enforcement agent (previously called a bailiff) who may take control of your goods to secure payment of the debt. If your case is passed to an enforcement agent then an additional fee of £75.00 will become due immediately to them and if the enforcement agent should have to visit you then a further fee of at least £235.00 will be payable.

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13. What is the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) and how will it affect my Council Tax Reduction?    

Rother's local working age Council Tax Reduction Scheme includes a Minimum Income Floor (MIF) if you are self-employed and your business has been running for more than 12 months.

The Minimum Income Floor is an assumed level of earnings and is based on the minimum amount that we would expect an employed person to receive in similar circumstances.

It is calculated using the National Minimum Wage for your age group, multiplied by 35 hours. It also includes a notional deduction for tax and national insurance.

If your self-employed earnings are below the Minimum Income Floor we have calculated for you, we will use the Minimum Income Floor to work out your entitlement

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14. What if I am self-employed on a part time or seasonal basis?

The Minimum Income Floor included within Rother's Scheme does not make an allowance for part time or seasonal work. Therefore it will be based on a minimum of 35 hours regardless of how many hours you actually work.

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15. What is the National Minimum Wage?

The National Minimum Wage is the minimum wage per hour a worker is entitled to in the United Kingdom. These rates are reviewed yearly by the government and are advised by the independent Low Pay Commission. The rates from April 2016 are detailed below.

18 - 20            £5.30

21 - 24            £6.70

25 and over   £7.20

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16. I think that my Council Tax Reduction entitlement is incorrect. How do I appeal?

You should write to the Councils Revenues and Benefits Department stating why you think the decision is wrong. We will look at your claim again and write to you with our decision. If we do not respond to you within 2 months, or if you are still aggrieved by the decision you may appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. Please visit www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk  and follow the instructions there on how to appeal.

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17. What is the Exceptional Hardship fund?

An exceptional hardship fund has been set up as part of the new Council Tax Reduction scheme to assist applicants who are facing 'exceptional hardship' The fund has been created to provide further assistance where an applicant is in receipt of Council Tax Reduction. There is no statutory right to payments from the fund as its operation will be at the total discretion of the Council. All applicants will be expected to engage with the Council and undertake the full application process. Failure to do so will inevitably mean that no payment will be made.

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