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Richmondshire District Council
Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022/23 Consultation Questionnaire

 Background to the consultation
 

What is this consultation about?

 

In 2013 Council Tax Reduction replaced Council Tax Benefit. The major difference between the two schemes is that Council Tax Reduction is a type of council tax discount and not a benefit. Over the years since 2013, the link between the rules that govern how Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction are calculated have become weaker and Richmondshire District Council now feel that the time has come to look again at the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. The aim is that the scheme will change to meet future requirements, to reflect customer needs and reduce administration costs. Richmondshire District Council would like to introduce a Council Tax Reduction scheme that is based on an income grid, which it is hoped will be simpler to understand, require less information to be provided by applicants while enabling additional support to be given to our most economically vulnerable residents.

 

Each Council is required to review their schemes each year and decide if they want to make any changes. Before any changes can be implemented, they must be subject to public consultation.

 

What is Council Tax Reduction?

 

Council Tax Reduction is a discount for Council Tax. The level of discount is based on the income of the household. Currently the maximum discount is 85% of Council Tax for working age households and up to 100% for pensioners.

 

A separate Central Government scheme is retained for people of pension age and Councils are only able to vary their schemes for people of working age.

 

Why is a change to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme being considered?

 

In April 2021 the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was amended to make some improvements to our working age scheme to make it fairer and to reduce the administration of the scheme. This year Richmondshire District Council is consulting on simplifying the scheme further to make it easier to understand and provide the required information to calculate Council Tax Reduction.

 

The District Council is proposing a number of changes to its existing scheme and, in line with legislation, we have a duty to consult you and provide you with the opportunity to tell us your views on the proposed changes to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

 

The Council is consulting on the following amendments to its scheme for 2022/23:

 

1. Introducing an income ‘grid’ scheme for all working age applicants replacing the current means tested approach which was based on the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme (Option 1)

 

As part of this proposal to move to a grid based scheme the Council is also considering the following options:

 

2. Limiting the number of dependent children used in the calculation of support to two for all working age applicants (Option 2);

 

3. Making a standard £5 deduction for all non-dependent adults who live in the property (Option 3);

 

4. Replacing the earnings disregards in the current scheme, including childcare costs with a standard £25 disregard and deducting 100% contribution to a pension from earned income instead of the current 50%  (Option 4);

 

5. Not including income from carers allowance when calculating total weekly income (Option 5);

 

6. Basing entitlement to Council Tax Reduction on a daily basis calculation rather than the current (benefit based) weekly basis (Option 6);

 

7. Replacing the current premiums for disability benefits and replacing them with a standard £20 premium (Option 7).

 

In Richmondshire District, 2209 people currently receive Council Tax Reduction. The gross cost of the scheme is £2.4 million which is spread across the District Council, the County Council, Fire, and the Police in accordance with the proportion of Council Tax which each organisation levies.

 

Who will this affect?

 

Working age households in the District who currently receive or will apply for Council Tax Reduction. Pension age households will not be affected as Central Government prescribe the scheme.

 

Are there any alternatives to changing the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme?

 

We have also thought about other ways to make the administration simpler. These have not been completely rejected (including maintaining the current scheme) and we are interested in your views, but, at the moment we do not think we should implement them for the reasons given.

 

We have considered:

 

1.  Continuing with the current scheme
Richmondshire District Council, in line with many others have found an increase in the number of people claiming Council Tax Reduction who are also on Universal Credit. Our current scheme requires us to ask for additional information from these customers meaning the assessment team spend time contacting customers for this additional required information, which has an administration cost. Richmondshire’s current scheme is based on a means tested scheme which can make it difficult for a customer to know how much Council Tax Reduction they could expect to receive. By moving to a grid-based scheme it is expected that it will be easier for all our customers to understand how much Council Tax Reduction they could expect to receive and enable them to easily provide all the information needed which should make the scheme more cost effective.

 

2.  Reduce funding to other Council services to pay for additional costs
Keeping the current Council Tax Reduction Scheme could mean less money is available to deliver other Council services.

 

3.  Use the Council’s reserves to keep the Council Tax Reduction Scheme
Using reserves to fund the additional administration costs would be a short-term option. Once used they will no longer be available to support and invest in other Council services and additional cuts would have to be made in the following years.

 Have your say
 

We welcome your view on the proposals outlined in this document.

 

Please complete this online questionnaire. There are 19 questions in total. You do not have to answer every question, except question one. A progress bar will indicate your position throughout the questionnaire.
Please note: the comment boxes where you can write your responses are not restricted to the space of the box and will scroll as you type.

 

The consultation closes on Sunday 24 October 2021.

 Questionnaire
Q1I have read the background information about the Council Tax Reduction Scheme:
 This question must be answered before you can continue
 Paying for the Scheme
Q2Do you think the Council should keep the current Council Tax Reduction scheme? (i.e. should it continue to administer the scheme as it does at the moment?)
Q3
 The box above is not restricted and will expand as you type
 
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