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Issue - meetings

Proposals to amend the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Post Consultation) 2020

Meeting: 19/11/2019 - Cabinet (Item 159)

159 Proposals to amend the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Post Consultation) 2020

      Report by Executive Director Alistair Cunningham OBE.




Supporting documents:


Cllr Simon Jacobs, Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement, presented a report which sought agreement to proposals to make changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTR) with effect from April 2020.


The Leader referred to a response from Citizens Advice Wiltshire, who expressed support for certain elements of the proposed scheme and also highlighted a number of concerns. The Leader asked for a copy of their letter to be forwarded to the Head of Revenues and Benefits for further consideration. 


Cllr Jacobs explained that the proposals were based on a simplified way of determining entitlement to council tax reduction know as de-minimus level, therefore limiting the number of changes to entitlement, offer a greater level of certainty for those in receipt of CTR and continue to protect low-income households from increases in Council Tax.


Cllr Ian Thorn, Chair of the Financial Planning Task Group, indicated that the Task Group at their meeting on 13 November 2019 welcomed the report, and were reassured by the engagement with the voluntary sector on the proposals and liaison with other councils.  The Task group also noted that there would be a review of the revised scheme in six months. Cllr Thorn, as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group expressed his delight that a positive decision would be made by the Cabinet and congratulated officers for their work on the revised scheme proposals.


Cllr Carole King, as a member of a small debt management group, thanked Citizens Advice Wiltshire for their comments.




To recommend that Council agree to the change to the Council Tax Reduction scheme as set out in the conclusion of this report. If agreed the change will take effect from April 2020.



Reasons for Decision:


It is an annual requirement for the council to review its local CTR scheme and make recommendations for change as required. Since its introduction in April 2013, the scheme has been subject to minor amendment, but the core elements have been retained. However, in the last 24 months there have been significant increases in the number of households in receipt of Universal Credit (Full Service). For the purposes of assessing entitlement to CTR, Wiltshire Council treats Universal Credit (UC) as an income.


The Department of Work and Pensions notifies the council when there is any change to a household’s entitlement to UC. Typically, the council is sent 5,000 notifications per month. These are sent directly to the Council, by the Department of work and Pensions and contain information they have gathered from a variety of sources, including HMRC. The CTR scheme was not designed to accommodate this level of information. It is too sensitive to minor changes in monthly entitlement, which trigger reassessment of claims and recalculation of council tax bills. It was felt that without intervention, the current scheme would cause significant confusion for the customer, increase the risk of indebtedness and increase the costs of administering the collection of council tax.






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