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 outlining 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.
Council Tax Support (or CTS) is a means tested, income related entitlement with your award 'being credited' to the relevant council tax bill to reduce the payments of council tax expected from you. The amount of CTS you are entitled to will appear printed on the bill you receive.
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 2017/18 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 have at least 8.5% of their Council Tax liability to pay with the year's bill listing the instalments required.
- 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.
- 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 2017/18 is £15,000.
- Claimant households are encouraged to apply for a discretionary top up where they can demonstrate a financial vulnerability (e.g. difficulties with budgeting for household bills and/or have health difficulties or caring responsibilities. All sensitive information will be held securely and used solely for the purposes of deciding the discretionary award.
*Including War Widow's Pension, War Widower's Pension, War Disablement Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Payments.
For 2017/18, the Council has adopted the same scheme as for all previous billing years since 1st April 2013. An annual uprating of the personal allowances, premiums and non-dependant deductions used to calculate an entitlement occurs each year in line with the annual housing benefit up ratings.
The full text of our Council Tax Reduction Schemes can be downloaded below:
- Derbyshire Dales Council Tax Reduction Scheme (pensioner) [PDF 788GB]
- Derbyshire Dales Council Tax Reduction Scheme (working age) [PDF 2.2MB]
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 where the liable person has some council tax to pay following the award of CTS.
Full details of the Hardship Relief provisions are contained within the Council's regulations (see above links for relevant details).
For more information, or to make an application for Hardship Relief, please contact Paul Radcliffe, Benefits Manager (tel: 01629 761271) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.