The answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the proposed changes to the council tax reduction (support) schemes across Buckinghamshire can be found below.
- Who will this affect?
- What is Council Tax Reduction?
- Who pays for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme?
- Who currently gets help with their council tax bill?
- How have we developed the proposals for the new Buckinghamshire Council’s scheme to help people pay their council tax?
- What other options were considered?
- How can I find out more?
Who will this affect?
Council tax payers who are of working age and currently receive support with their council tax bills in Buckinghamshire.
Pensioners are not affected by these changes.
What is Council Tax Reduction?
Council tax payers who have a low income can apply for Local Council Tax Reduction, which, if they are eligible will give them a discount on their council tax bill. How much support people get is based on their situation and income.
Who pays for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme?
The scheme is funded by the current district councils and will be funded by the new Buckinghamshire Council from April 2020.
Who currently gets help with their council tax bill?
Support is currently awarded to low income households. This includes people of working age, pensioners and vulnerable people. The proposed changes do not affect pensioners, who are protected by law.
The amount of support varies, depending on the claimants financial circumstances and the district council area they live in. The maximum amount of support currently awarded is shown below by district council area.
How have we developed the proposals for the new Buckinghamshire Council’s scheme to help people pay their council tax?
We have used the following principles to develop the proposals for this change.
The new Council Tax Reduction scheme will:
– Be fair and apply to all working age residents in Buckinghamshire
– Be developed by bringing together the current four schemes and continue to include elements that apply to the majority of the current district councils where possible
– Offer protection to vulnerable residents (as determined in the context of the scheme)
– Minimise negative impact on residents, whilst recognising that reductions in levels of support may occur
What other options were considered?
We looked at a number of options for how to create one scheme for Buckinghamshire.
We reviewed the four current schemes in line with the principles listed above. The following options were also considered as part of this work and have been discarded due to how much this would impact on those people who are currently supported with council tax payments.
- Removing the Family Premium allowance for all claimants – currently all families receive an additional allowance of £17.45 per week, this amount is used to work out the amount of support a household needs. Removing this allowance for families would make savings for the new council but would impact on a large number of families. The number of people who would be negatively affected by this resulted in the proposal being rejected.
- Setting the level of contributions for working age claimants to 10%. This option resulted in savings for the new council but will have a negative impact on claimants. This option is also costly to administer and will impact on the overall cost of the scheme.
- We considered increasing the amount of the Non Dependant Deduction (NDD). When there are other adults living in the house, a set amount is taken off the amount of support that the person applying for help is entitled to. The four district councils currently have different levels of deductions for other adults living in the household. By increasing the level of NDD, many families would find themselves with more council tax to pay each year. Due to the negative impact to our residents this option was rejected.
- Continuing with the current four schemes after 1 April 2020 was considered but would mean residents would not be treated the same across the county. This would lead to confusion and result in different levels of support for our residents based on where you live. To ensure people with the same circumstances get the same level of help we need to bring the current schemes together to make the best new scheme for the whole of Buckinghamshire.
- Another option for the new Buckinghamshire Council would be to create a radically different approach by introducing a banded scheme. This would be based on levels of income grouped into bands. With the wider roll out of Universal Credit having taken place, other local authorities are beginning to consider these schemes as a simpler way of supporting people and families on low incomes. This has been discounted at this stage as the four district councils currently use three different software applications which would make administration of a banded scheme difficult.
How can I find out more?
If you have any questions about this consultation, please contact 01296 382211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org