This consultation ran from 5pm Friday, 27 July to 9 am Monday, 24 September.
We plan to report the findings of this consultation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26 November 2018.
You could read our ten proposals and alternative option and tell us what you think. It was important to read our information before replying.
1 – To introduce income bands – This means we won’t have to constantly change people’s entitlement to Council Tax reduction. For example, people will be able to do a few hours’ overtime without worrying about telling us about changes to their claim.
2 – No additional discount for families with more than two children – This change, which will bring Council Tax Reduction in line with other benefits including the new Universal Credit scheme, means families with three or more children may have to pay more of their Council Tax bill.
3 – We will not take into account other adults living in households that are not partners – We will no longer assume that adult children, for example, will contribute towards the household’s Council Tax bill. This means some people may get more of a reduction in their Council Tax.
4 – Changing the claiming process for all residents who get Universal Credit – We will automatically give people on Universal Credit a reduction in their Council Tax, meaning people no longer have the hassle of having to make a separate claim to the council for this benefit.
5 – Not counting the first £25 earnings a week for residents & partners working over 16 hours a week – This will replace a more complicated system and will mean single people and couples with no children in particular will be able to earn more without it affecting their Council Tax reduction. However, larger families may receive less reduction than at present and may have to apply to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme if they need more support.
6 – Not including Carer’s Allowance as income when working out the Council Tax discount – We believe this is fairer to people who are carers, who may receive a bigger reduction than at present.
7 – Allowing students who pay Council Tax to apply for a discount – This will make the process less complicated and mean more of the small number of students who have to pay Council Tax will be able to get a reduction.
8 – Stopping the extension of Council Tax reduction to people who just came off benefits and into work – This will bring this benefit in line with national benefits such as Universal Credit and mean all benefit claimants will be treated equally. However, it means people who come off benefits and start work will have their Council Tax reduction stopped straightaway.
9 – Work out changes in the reduction from the date circumstances change – This will replace the current system which, for historic reasons, is calculated weekly, will make the reduction scheme match how Council Tax is charged and make the system simpler and easier to run.
10 – Disregard some income to protect disabled residents, partners or children that would lose some discount under the income band proposal (1) – Will replace the current system of ‘premiums’ awarded to people in this category with a new system where income to the same value is disregarded to ensure that disabled people or people with a disabled partner or child are not negatively affected by the changes.
We want to change the Council Tax reduction scheme because:
- Universal Credit: The introduction of full service Universal Credit in East Sussex, in effect, means the traditional link between Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction will no longer exist. Housing Benefit will not be available to working-age, new claimants because they will receive Universal Credit, which includes an amount for housing costs.
- The current Council Tax reduction scheme does not work effectively with the government’s Universal Credit system. Residents in receipt of a Council Tax reduction are likely to have multiple changes in their benefit throughout the year. This means the Council has to reassess a resident’s entitlement to CTR an equal number of times, often with no resulting change in the amount of financial support given. This makes it expensive for the Council to administer and it is more difficult for low income households to manage their money and spending.
- Get What is Due: We want to make sure residents on Universal Credit get their entitlement to a Council Tax reduction as quickly as possible.
- Less Cost: We want to reduce our administration costs and prevent them going up in the future.
- Simpler and Easier: We want to provide a simpler scheme, easily understood by residents.
We had a duty to consult you about our proposed changes and give you an opportunity to tell us your views.
The Council wants to ensure the same overall amount of support is available to low income households. We expect there will be winners and losers but we have tried to minimise this as much as possible. For example, households with more than two children are more likely to be affected. Residents in receipt of benefits such as income support, income related employment and support allowance and income based Jobseekers Allowance will NOT be affected. Pensioners who apply for a Council Tax reduction will NOT be affected because they have a separate scheme.