The end of Council Tax Benefit - April 2013
Widely debated, the Government’s new welfare reforms will create radical changes to a number of benefits and the way they are paid. The Government has announced that from April 2013 Council Tax Benefit must be replaced by a localised support scheme to help people on a low income with their Council Tax.
The awards of Council Tax Benefit in the Borough last year were in the order of £3.5 million out of total Council Tax revenue of £47 million.
The Government tasked councils with developing their own local schemes, but with reduced funding of at least 10% nationally.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, working alongside the other Surrey Councils, developed a framework for a replacement scheme. Consultation took place between 3 September and 28 October 2012, so that residents and interested groups could have their say on the matter. 879 responses were received.
Councillors had to make some very tough decisions - taking into account government guidelines, a desire to adversely affect as few people as possible, giving considerations to residents with differing circumstances and managing the drop in funding from central government.
Introducing a local scheme that maintained the awards made under the Council Tax Benefit scheme would have cost residents over 1/2 million pounds. Therefore, whilst recognising that reductions in support would affect some residents on low incomes, a local Council Tax Support scheme was devised that incorporates the majority of aspects within Council Tax Benefit, but has five main changes.
This means some residents will receive reduced assistance with their Council Tax from 1 April 2013.
Those not affected
Pensioners are protected from these changes. They will receive Council Tax Support, but it will be calculated along the same lines as Council Tax Benefit.
The five main differences between Council Tax Benefit and Council Tax Support mean that approximately a quarter of working age customers will face a reduction in the amount of financial assistance they receive. These changes are listed below.
What are the changes to the new scheme?
The scheme is largely based upon Council Tax Benefit which includes some in-built protections for people with different needs. The five main elements of the scheme that are changing are:
- The Second Adult Rebate scheme will cease - support can no longer be claimed for others in the household on low income.
- The current Capital 'cutoff' limit of £16,000 will reduce - no award will be made where the customer has more than £10,000.
- The Maximum Award for support will be restricted to Council Tax property Band D - this will reduce support for those in Band E, F, G & H.
- A Minimum Award will be introduced - where awards of less than £5 per week will not be made.
- 'Backdating' of support will be reduced from 6 to 3 months in cases where a customer does not claim support at the right time.
How do I claim Council Tax Support?
Anyone receiving Council Tax Benefit on 31 March 2013 will have been assessed for Council Tax Support.
New claims can only be made by a person who is liable to pay the Council Tax.
Please follow this link for a list of relevant Frequently Asked Questions.
Please follow this link to see our Council Tax Support feature (pdf - 133kb) included in the Winter 2013 edition of Borough Insight.
Please follow this link to see the results of our Council Tax Support Consultation (pdf - 792kb).
Please follow this link for information relating to other Welfare Reform Changes.
The Department for Communities and Local Government have produced a number of relevant documents including 'Localising Support for Council Tax - A Statement of Intent (pdf - 326kb)'.