Council Tax Support Consultation 2018-19

Closed 31 Oct 2018

Opened 29 Aug 2018

Overview

Changes to our council tax support scheme

We would like your views on our scheme for people who need help paying their council tax.

Since Council Tax Support replaced Council Tax Benefit, we believe that people on low income should not lose out on financial help towards their council tax, despite cuts to the government funding available for this.

We have always proposed to meet the shortfall from council budgets rather than give people less money but because of changes in other welfare benefits, we have had to make some changes to your scheme and we would like to hear your views on what we propose changing this year (2019/20).

Our consultation ends on 31st October 2018.

Why We Are Consulting

Why is there a new scheme?

In April 2013, the government ended council tax benefit and asked local councils to introduce their own scheme for residents who need help paying their council tax.

Since then, after consultation with our residents, we have absorbed the cost of any shortfall in government funding to ensure that no resident of the borough is worse off.

At first, the government gave us the amount we used to spend in council tax benefit less ten per cent. However, more recently the government has reduced funding further meaning local councils have to pay more towards their council tax support schemes.

Since we agreed the current scheme, universal credit has been introduced. The changes that we are proposing this year are to help make our scheme more in line with Universal Credit.

Our current scheme finishes on 31 March 2019. We would now like to hear your views on our proposals for 2019/20.

Our proposals

We want to continue to ensure that no one is worse off under a new council tax support scheme. The detail of the scheme we have opted for will not be substantially changed.

We are proposing: 

  1. Changes to how we assess notifications from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP):
  • We propose adding a threshold to the notifications we receive from the Department of Works and Pensions that tell us of changes to Universal Credit. We think the threshold should be £5.00 per week. This means, if the DWP tell us that your Universal Credit has changed by less than £5.00, we will ignore it. We are suggesting this to make our scheme more efficient. See below for more detail.  

      2. Changes to claim dates

Allowing a dormant council tax support form to be valid for up to 6 months after the claim date. This is in line with Universal Credit regulations where a claim can remain open for 6 months in case the claimant becomes entitled during that period.

  • To treat entitlement to housing benefit as an intention to claim to ensure that anyone on receipt of housing benefit, who becomes entitled to council tax support does not lose out if they do not claim in time.

If you are not on universal credit, there is no change to how we calculate your support. It will continue to be based on the previous council tax benefit regulations.

Universal credit claims are different because when you are working, you will receive more universal credit than the previous tax credit system. Because of this, we think it is important to reflect this in our council tax support scheme so you keep more of your support.

Changes to how we assess notifications from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP):

If you are in receipt of council tax support and universal credit, any changes to your income are sent to us on a weekly basis by the DWP. This means that small income fluctuations are reported through this means. As our scheme currently stands, we have to process these changes when they come in. This means your CTS could change on a weekly basis.

As more of our residents move to Universal Credit, this will becoming harder for us to achieve in a timely manner and we will need to dedicate more resource to this.

By ignoring the smaller changes, we will be able to cope better with the amount of this work that we receive. It will also provide more stability for council tax support claims affected by this as entitlement will not be changing on a weekly basis.

Have your say

We would like to know what you think of our proposals. Please complete the short questionnaire below.

We will make a final decision, based on the responses to the consultation, before 31 January 2019 and the scheme will be begin on 1 April 2019.

A broad outline of our current scheme is available on our website.

http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Directory/Advice_and_Benefits/Council_tax/Who_has_to_pay/174433_Council_Tax_Support_Scheme.asp

You can find the full regulations for our current scheme (previously known as the “default scheme”) on the following link:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2886/contents/made

Who will be affected?

The government have said councils must ensure that no pensioner is worse off. So these changes affect working age residents only.

In other parts of the country, the changes have reduced the financial support available to all other people needing help towards their council tax bills.

Things are different in Hammersmith & Fulham. We have decided that we do not want people on low incomes to be worse off.

The changes we are proposing are designed to make the scheme more efficient and to help residents to claim council tax support.

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Anyone from any background

Interests

  • All interests