Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023
Meeting: 24/02/2022 - Council (Item 35)
Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance Revenues and Benefits.
- Appendix 1 for Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023, item 35 PDF 233 KB
- Appendix 2 for Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023, item 35 PDF 5 MB
Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits presented the report.
Breckland Council had strived year on year to make changes and improvements to the Local Council Tax Scheme (LCTRS) to make the application process much simpler and less challenging for those who required assistance.
There were four recommendations that had already been debated at the Cabinet meeting held 10 January 2022 and these had been sent to this Full Council meeting for adoption.
The proposals were as follows:
· to reduce the ‘capital threshold’ for LCTRS from £16,000 to £10,000 and abolish the tariff income
· to introduce a fixed rate reduction of £7.40 for all non-dependents in a household
· To increase the tolerance for Universal Credit data reassessments from £65.00 to £100.00 a month.
In 2021/22 no changes had been proposed and the scheme that was implemented and adopted in 2020/21 had been retained.
Lorraine King, the Head of Benefits & Council Tax Billing (ARP) was in attendance to answer any detailed questions pertaining to the proposals.
The recommendations were proposed and seconded.
Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group felt this was a common-sense proposal which he welcomed, it saved the Council money in administration and made it clearer and easier for residents to understand and was therefore happy to support the recommendations.
Councillor Monument asked for clarification in respect of recommendation no. 2 and asked if the introduction of the fixed rate reduction of £7.40 was for all non-dependents or did it apply just once regardless of how many non-dependents were in a household.
The Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits said that he understood it as being for all non-dependents in a household but passed the question to the Head of Benefits & Council Tax Billing (ARP) to confirm.
Members were informed that the deduction was applicable to each non-dependent, for each extra adult in a household but if there was a couple there would only be one deduction per couple. There would be no deduction at all for those people on ‘passported’ benefits.
In response to a suggestion about whether the Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits would like to make a slight change to the second recommendation to read £7.40 for all non-dependents, Members were informed that the recommendation should remain unchanged as the Head of Benefits & Council Tax Billing (ARP) had previously explained and was therefore not appropriate.
Councillor Birt, the Leader of the Green Party was also content to vote for this relatively minor amendment, it was definitely a step in the right direction; however, he did remain concerned that one of the queries that he had previously raised had not been taken into account in respect of not having no real checks in place for those people who managed their affairs in such a way and appeared to be in need but in reality was not.
He also queried the 91.5% limit under proposal 2 that seemed odd as was the case for the lack of support for those homes greater than ... view the full minutes text for item 35
Meeting: 10/01/2022 - Cabinet (Item 10)
Report of Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue & Benefits.
- Appendix 1 for Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023, item 10 PDF 233 KB
- Appendix 2 for Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023, item 10 PDF 5 MB
Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue and Benefits presented the report.
Members heard that Councils were required to consider and review the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme annually and this was the ninth year the scheme had been in operation. The report outlined the findings of the 2021 annual review and proposed modifications as a result of the consultation.
Councillor Robinson particularly commended recommendations three and four of the report as he had regularly supported residents who required assistance with the scheme and welcomed that the claim process would be streamlined.
Councillor Jermy noted that the report highlighted that 123 customers would be expected to pay more Council Tax and asked what the average amount would be. He also questioned if benchmarking had taken place between other local authorities to reach the proposed reduction of the ‘Capital Threshold’ figures from £16,000 to £10,000.
Councillor Cowen stated that the Anglia Revenues Partnership affected Council Tax payers across much of East Anglia, not just Breckland but would ask the Head of ARP to respond to the questions that had been specifically asked.
Councillor Birt asked what measures were in place to limit those who were able to manage their financial affairs so appear to have a low income but live a lavish life. Councillor Cowen said he would ask the Head of ARP to respond.
The Chairman felt it was important that the benefits system was an easy process to follow especially for those that experienced financial hardship. He added that Breckland Council was the only Council in Norfolk that contributed to the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as a fraud team within the Anglia Revenues Partnership. It was therefore important that there was a specialist team to consider difficult cases and ensure that early intervention provided support to those in need.
1) That Cabinet recommends to Full Council the proposed changes to Breckland Council's Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023
1) Reducing the capital threshold from £16,000 to £10,000 and abolishing tariff income
2) Introducing a fixed rate reduction of £7.40 for non-dependants
3) Further streamlining the claim process
4) Increasing the tolerance for Universal Credit data re-assessments from £65 per month to £100 per month
2) That Cabinet recommends to Full Council some of the proposed changes to Breckland Council's Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023 but not all.
3) Do nothing.
Reasons for Recommendation
These proposed changes are expected to streamline a customer’s journey; provide certainty and consistency of entitlement; reduce information requirements for customers; and enhance the use of DWP and HMRC data.
RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to FULL COUNCIL:
The proposed changes to Breckland Council’s Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023:
1) Reducing the capital threshold from £16,000 to £10,000 and abolishing tariff income.
2) Introducing a fixed rate reduction of £7.40 for non-dependants.
3) Further streamlining the claim process.
4) Increasing the tolerance for Universal Credit data re-assessments from £65 per month to £100 per month.