Changes to the Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme next year have prompted Wiltshire Council to ask people’s opinions on the changes to the proposals.
The council wants views on options to help provide a simplified scheme specifically for those in receipt of Universal Credit.
The current CTR scheme is a means-tested benefit for working-aged people, which currently supports 14,400 working-age households. A separate national scheme operated by the council supports another 10,600 pensioner households through a reduction in their council tax.
The changes are proposed because of the introduction of Full Service Universal Credit to Wiltshire. An award of Universal Credit often changes every month. Under the current scheme, whenever someone’s Universal Credit award changes by an amount that affects their CTR by more than £1, their CTR award will also be reassessed.
The council proposes that the amount of CTR a working age household in receipt of Universal Credit receives should no longer be subject to a complex means test calculation. Instead, it will look at total net household income and place the household in an income band. The band will determine the amount of CTR to be deducted from the bill. Any changes will affect only working age households on Universal Credit, as those of state pension credit age have their scheme set by government.
Philip Whitehead, Wiltshire Council leader and Cabinet Member for Finance said: “We are asking people to give us their views to help us shape a system that continues to provide fair support. We want to reduce the risk of having to frequently adjust entitlement to a household’s Council Tax Reduction as a result of minor changes in income, an issue which is commonly faced by those on Universal Credit.
“We hope to reduce uncertainty for those on this scheme and in doing so minimise the cost of administration. Once we have received public feedback, we can then make a decision on how we deliver the scheme next year.”
The consultation is open until November 11 at http://consult.wiltshire.gov.uk/portal/council_tax/council_tax_reduction_scheme
Changes would be implemented in April 2020.
Proposed changes are:
- To introduce six income bands for households which determine the percentage reduction in council tax per year.
- To disregard the first £50 of any income earned by the household each week
- To disregard an element of carers allowance
- Maintain the working age protected category.
- To continue the current scheme for those in receipt of War Widows or War Disablement Pensions, as well as those in receipt of certain disability benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP).