The Welfare Reform Act 2012 and Local Government Finance Act 2012 replaced Council Tax Benefit from 1st April 2013 with Council Tax Support under a locally determined Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which is effectively a new type of Council Tax discount.
The law requires each billing authority in England to make a scheme specifying the reductions which are to apply to amounts of Council Tax payable by persons, or classes or persons, whom the authority considers are in financial need.
The Government provided a 'default scheme' that applied to all Councils where a local Council Tax Reduction Scheme had not been agreed by 31st January 2013. The provisions of the default scheme were broadly aligned to the previous Council Tax Benefit arrangements but would mean that the Council and its preceptors would suffer a loss in income equal to the cut in the Government grant of 10% of projected Council Tax Benefit expenditure for 2013/14.
Pensioners are not affected by these changes as the Government has made regulations to protect them from any reduction in entitlement so claims from non-working age claimants will be dealt with in a broadly similar way as they would have been dealt with under the old Council Tax Benefit regulations.
Derbyshire Dales District Council adopted a local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2013/14 based on the Government's default scheme (which mirrored the previous Council Tax Benefit Regulations) with the additional local provisions detailed below:
- Awards of Council Tax Support under the scheme for all working-age claimants will be capped at 91.5% of the amount they would have received under the Council Tax Benefit Regulations. This means that all working age claimants who would have been entitled to 100% support under Council Tax Benefit will have to pay 8.5% of their Council Tax liability.
- Income from War Pensions* for all claimants will be disregarded in full in calculating a person's entitlement to Council Tax Support under the scheme (as they were for Council Tax Benefit).
- Working age claimants will be entitled to an extended amount of Council Tax Support under the scheme for a period of 8 weeks which means that their entitlement will not immediately reduce when they start work or increase their earnings/hours.
- Provision is made for Hardship Relief (see below) whereby additional Council Tax Support can be awarded on a discretionary basis in exceptional circumstances. Applications for Hardship Relief will be considered on their individual merits and any awards will made for fixed periods on a case-by-case basis. The total amount available for the purposes of Hardship Relief awards for 2016/17 is £15,000.
*Including War Widow's Pension, War Widower's Pension, War Disablement Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Payments.
For 2016/17, the Council has adopted the same scheme as for 2013/14 (but with all the personal allowances, premiums and non-dependant deductions etc uprated in line with the annual housing benefit up ratings).
The full text of our Council Tax Reduction Schemes can be downloaded below:
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2015-16 [1.03 MB PDF]
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2014-15 [0.89MB PDF]
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2013-14 [0.88MB PDF]
Council Tax Reduction Scheme - Discretionary Awards
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme for Derbyshire Dales District Council includes a provision for Discretionary Hardship Relief to enable the Council to provide extra financial help where you are finding it difficult to budget for your council tax bill.
Our Council Tax Reduction Scheme is based largely on the existing Council Tax Benefit Regulations, which means that support will continue to be provided to a number of groups who could be considered vulnerable through, inter alia, the award of disability premiums in the calculation of entitlement, the disregard of income types such as Disability Living Allowance and earnings disregards for certain groups of claimants such as lone parents. However, it is recognised that the requirement for all working age claimants to make a financial contribution towards their Council Tax means that further help may be necessary in exceptional circumstances.
Hardship Relief will be available to provide additional assistance e.g. to those residents most adversely affected by the changes, and allow the Council a degree of flexibility in dealing with cases of exceptional hardship following the implementation of the local Council Tax Reduction Scheme from April 2013.
Full details of the Hardship Relief provisions are contained in Schedule 11 of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (which can be downloaded - see above).
For more information, or to make an application for Hardship Relief, please contact the Benefits Manager (tel: 01629 761271) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.