Consultation closes at midnight on Sunday 10th November

Around 3,000 low income households in East Devon could benefit by an estimated £270,000 in extra support towards paying their council tax in a scheme which is currently being consulted on.

But time is running out to take part in the consultation on the district council’s draft Council Tax Reduction Scheme which proposes to increase the amount of council tax support for low income working age households. Pensioners will not be affected by the proposals.

People can take part in the consultation up until midnight on Sunday 10th November.

Under the current scheme, eligible low income working age households pay less council tax each year. However, applying for the reduction involves a lengthy means test and complex legislation.

The council is looking to significantly simplify the reduction scheme by putting more money into the current system and introducing ‘Income Banded’ discounts. This means that council tax discounts of 85%, 70%, 50% and 25% would be awarded depending on a claimant and partner’s weekly income and the number of individuals and dependants living in the household.

Under the proposed draft scheme, 92% of claimants – around 3,000 households - many of whom are families adversely affected by recent welfare reforms, would be better off.

Cllr Ian Thomas, the district council’s portfolio holder for finance, said:

East Devon is among just a handful of councils nationally which is proposing to increase support for low income families to help them pay their council tax. Many councils are cutting back on this support.

The draft scheme is also more compatible with Universal Credit which is a means-tested benefit for households who are on a low income. Universal Credit, which was introduced in East Devon in July 2018, replaced six benefits including housing benefit, income support and income based job seeker’s allowance.

Following the consultation, there will be a detailed review of the draft scheme taking into account the comments received.

The final scheme will be brought back to the district council’s Cabinet in January 2020. If agreed by the council, the new scheme will be introduced from April 2020.