From 1st April 2013, the Government abolished council tax benefit (CTB). Every council had to replace it with a new local scheme. We call this new scheme council tax support.
The government is giving councils less money to pay for their new schemes. The cut will be over 10% of the current expenditure and will not be increased if the number of people claiming or the council tax charge goes up.
We estimate that we will receive a reduction in funding of approximately £600,000 in 2013-14. This shortage means that we have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets council tax support and how much.
It is important to note that only working age customers are affected by these changes. Pensioners are NOT affected.
We are looking to make up the shortfall from both the council tax support scheme and from income from empty and unfurnished properties and second homes. We have carried out a consultation exercise and this has helped us to decide on the nature of the scheme.
We have considered a range of options to make up for the shortfall in funding and believe the fairest proposal (for both benefit claimants and taxpayers) is to:
- Reduce benefit expenditure through a new council tax support scheme
- Generate income by changing the council tax exemptions and discounts for second homes and empty properties.
The council has received some funding from central government which allows us to reduce the impact of the changes this year. The scheme will be reviewed on an annual basis and we will need to make further savings over the coming years.
What is the new scheme?
There will be no change to the scheme for pensioners. For working age customers*, Wellingborough Council is adopting the default scheme (which essentially is the old council tax benefit scheme) with some amendments. The amendments are
91.5% of the council tax liability will be used in the entitlement calculation (working age customers only)
Under the old scheme, council tax benefit was based on 100% of a person's liability. This meant that people receiving certain benefits (e.g. income support) and those on very low income did not have to pay any council tax.
Under the new scheme all working age customers will be required to pay a small contribution to the council tax.
Example: A couple with children, living in a Band A property and in receipt of income support, have a council tax of £916.27 fully paid by council tax benefit. Under the new local scheme they would have to pay £77.88 per year or about £1.50 per week because their entitlement would be based on 91.5% of the council tax liability.
Removal of the second adult rebate scheme for working age claimants
The current second adult rebate scheme (whereby claimants whose own income is too high to receive benefit, but have other adult(s) in the household whose income is low, can receive a council tax discount of up to 25%) will be discontinued under the local scheme.
There is no requirement to offer second adult rebate for working age customers, but it will be retained for pensioner age claimants.
Will I have to re-apply?
If you currently receive council tax benefit you will not have to re-apply under the new scheme. You will automatically be re-assessed using the new rules. Your award may be reviewed once you have moved across to the new benefit.
How can I pay council tax?
Direct Debit is the easiest and the most cost effective way to pay your council tax. You can choose to pay on the 1st, 11th, 20th or 28th of the month. You can also opt to pay through to March instead of January. The council also offers several alternative payment methods such as online and telephone payments.
Council tax scheme for 2014-15
Following a further reduction in government funding, we are currently looking at the scheme for 2014-15. Tell us what you think of our proposals for 2014-15.
* The changes will only affect tenants of working age. This age is expected to be 61 in April 2013, and will rise in line with the women's state pension age until the pension age for men and women is the same in 2018. By 2020, the government has proposed that the state pension age will be 66 for everyone.