Why does the Public Consultation on changes to Council Tax Reduction provide no financial data? Several questions have direct financial implications either affecting reduction in revenue or reduction in actual administrative costs. None are specified so making empirical judgement is impossible and looking forward there is no effective Public accountability for the decisions taken. Why were there no financial details included? (17/09/2018)
The current Council Tax Reduction scheme is based on how housing benefit is administered and is very reactive to any change in a household’s circumstances. Entitlement to relief can alter even if the overall change to the person’s liability is small (down to a single penny). With the Government’s move away from housing benefit to Universal Credit, the Council is seeing that a significant number of Universal Credit claimants are having between eight and twelve changes to their income per annum. This is common to all Councils where Universal Credit is in place. These constant changes cause the Council to have to recalculate a households entitlement to council tax relief, revise their monthly payment instalments and issue a large number of revised Council Tax demands each year.
The proposals aim to simplify the scheme, give greater certainty of the amount of council tax relief to those working age households where their income varies on a regular basis, and make it easier and less expensive to administer. The actual amount of financial help the new scheme will give is expected to be at a very similar level to the current scheme, around £6.3m each year. Therefore it is not intended to save the overall amount of relief given, but should require less time to process claims for relief. This will give the Council an opportunity saving as the released capacity can be reinvested in the service. The following link takes you to the report that went to the Council’s overview and scrutiny committee where further details are given, (05/10/2018)