A scheme that helps people on low incomes pay their Council Tax is being reviewed.
Wyre Forest District Council is working to redesign its Council Tax Reduction Scheme. The council is looking to simplify the system for applicants and make it easier to administer the scheme once Universal Credit is fully introduced.
The proposal is to replace the current means tested scheme in favour of a simple income grid model based on ranges or bands of income. The percentage reduction someone gets from their Council Tax bill will be based on who is living at the property and the weekly income band they fit into. This will help avoid constant changes in discount.
Councillor Nathan Desmond, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources said:
“The introduction of Universal Credit in the district from November 2018 will bring a number of challenges for the council. We’re proposing to make changes to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme to make it easier for people to understand it and for our staff to administer it, as more people claim Universal Credit in the district. The planned new income band system would mean that you can increase your hours or get a better paid job knowing in advance how much support we will give you to pay your council tax. “
The proposed scheme would comply with the original principles of the scheme which includes every household with working ages claimants paying something and incentivising people to work. There are no plans to change the minimum amount of Council Tax working age residents have to pay. This will stay at 20%. A Hardship Fund would still provide protection for those who are least able to pay. Any changes would affect working age applicants only. The scheme for pension age applicants is set by central government and would not be affected.
The review is being discussed at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee tomorrow (Thursday 5 July) and it will be making recommendations to the Cabinet for its meeting on Tuesday 17 July. This will be webcast from 6pm and can be viewed at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/webcast.
A 10 week public consultation is due to start on Monday 23 July. The consultation will be available from www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/CTRS.