Scheme brought in to line with central government changes
East Devon District Council is making eight changes in the way it provides financial help towards the council tax of residents who are on low incomes.
It’s the first time that the working-age Council Tax Support Scheme has been changed since it was introduced in 2013. The changes bring the scheme in line with the Government’s latest welfare reforms to housing benefits and Universal Credit and will also reduce the council’s administration costs.
The changes, which come into force on 1 April 2017, do not affect pensioners as their discount scheme is set nationally by central government. Each local authority sets its own scheme for working-age residents.
In summary, the changes are:
- Removal of the family premium for all new claims or break in claims made after 1 April 2017, or where this premium would apply for the first time to existing claims.
- Reducing the backdating limit from six months to one month.
- Introducing a Minimum Income Floor for self-employed.
- Additional temporary absence rules for absence from Great Britain of four or more weeks.
- Removal of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Work Related Activity Component for all new ESA claims.
- To limit the number of dependant children additions within the calculation of Council Tax Support to a maximum of two. This change will not be implemented from 1 April 2017 if the Department for Work and Pensions does not implement the same limits in Housing Benefit legislation.
- To remove entitlement to the Severe Disability Premium when another person is paid Universal Credit (Carers Element) to look after them.
- Remove the additional earnings disregard for Universal Credit claims only and apply the standard disregards to all applicants that are in employment, regardless of hours worked.
Last summer, the council held a ten week consultation on the changes and the council approved them in December.
All residents affected by these changes are being contacted and offered assistance which includes independent budgeting and money advice. Some of these changes will only apply to residents making a new claim for Council Tax Support after 1st April 2017
Council Tax Support is a targeted way in which we can use a local scheme to provide additional help to our working age council tax payer on low incomes. It is important that whilst providing additional support where needed, we do not remove any incentive for those moving onto work.
We can revise our scheme each year. Changes announced here are important, in that they are the first since the introduction of the scheme in 2013. Our councillor team discussed each change in detail, considering particularly that any proposal was fair and legally sound.
I am particularly pleased that we could consider our decision with the benefit of 249 consultee responses, a full 60% more than the nearest other Devon authority. This is a great testament to diligence of our officers and sincerity of the council in our wish to involve the people of East Devon in important decisions of this nature.
For further information about the changes, please contact the Revenues and Benefits Team on 01395 517446.