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2016/17 Council Tax Reduction Scheme Consultation

Background Information

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) helps the poorest residents in our communities by reducing the amount of council tax they have to pay.  The amount of help we give is based on a claimant’s financial situation. View detailed information on the current CTRS.

CTRS has been in place since April 2013. In Wyre Forest the scheme largely reflects the previous Council Tax Benefit (CTB) scheme, which was fully funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

From April 2013 responsibility passed to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) who introduced a number of key elements namely:

  • The duty to create a local scheme for working age applicants was placed with billing authorities, i.e Wyre Forest District Council in the case of this area
  • Government funding was reduced by the equivalent of 10% from the levels paid through benefit subsidy to authorities under the previous CTB scheme
  • Persons of pension age, although allowed to apply for CTRS, would be dealt with under regulations prescribed by central government and not the council’s local scheme.

 

The main features of Wyre Forest District Council’s scheme for working age claimants currently are:

  • The maximum award is 90% so working age claimants pay at least 10% of their council tax liability
  • Council Tax Reduction is granted where the award is above £5 per week
  • We assume a level of income from savings of £1 per week for every £200 (or part thereof) held above £6,000
  • We do not backdate claims for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme
  • There is no second adult rebate for working age claimants

Each year the council reviews its scheme in consultation with its precepting authorities namely Worcestershire County Council, Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service and West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner.  For 2015/16 no changes were proposed and therefore wider public consultation was not undertaken.  

For 2016/17 all authorities continue to face significant financial challenges to meet savings targets in order to meet the impact of continued reductions in government grants. 

An indication of the scale of estimated expenditure reductions (before the impact of Emergency Budget on 8th July 2015):

2016/17

£m

2017/18

£m

2018/19

£m

Worcestershire County Council

     28.0

24.5

25.0

West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner

4.1

6.0

6.0

Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue

0.30

1.6

2.5

Wyre Forest District Council

1.0

1.0

1.0

 

Conclusion

Both the district council and all precepting authorities in Worcestershire have a difficult financial situation to manage over the next three years and will have to make savings and increase their income.  In the case of Wyre Forest District Council, part of these £1m savings could come from reducing the amount of help provided to residents through CTRS.  Alternatively we could:

  • Increase the level of council tax for all households
  • Continue to use the council’s rapidly diminishing  reserves but these are forecast to run out after 2017
  • Reduce funding available for other council services

 

In reality a combination of options will need to be used to close our entire funding gap.

No decisions have been made yet.  The following questionnaire asks for your views and suggestions to help us design the scheme for 2016/17 onwards.

Please email our customer services team at worcestershirehub@wyreforestdc.gov.uk or call 01562 732928 for further information. 

Timescale

Any decision to change the scheme must be agreed by full Council by 31 January 2016.

This consultation will take place for 12 weeks from 6 July to 27 September 2015.

Please note that any changes would affect working age applicants only. The scheme for pension age applicants is set by central government and is not affected by any of the options. 

Thank you for your input - the consultation has now ended.



Wyre Forest District Council