Agenda item

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21

This report seeks approval to formally adopt a new local Council Tax Reduction scheme (known as Council Tax Support) to be effective from 1 April 2020.  The report sets out the reasons why a change of scheme is both necessary and desirable along with the design options and features considered in the design of the new scheme.  In addition, details are provided on the findings and outcomes of the consultation arrangements for the proposed scheme carried out over a 12-week period between 19 July and 10 October 2019 and includes details of the financial and equalities impacts of the recommended scheme as well as a high level implementation plan.

Decision:

AGREED

 

(1)     To approve and authorise the making and implementation of the recommended Council Tax Support Scheme as set out in section 4 and Appendix A of the report, to be effective from 1 April 2020.

 

(2)     To note the outcome of the consultation on proposals to change the Local Council Tax Support scheme, as detailed in Section 6 and Appendices G & H of the report.

 

(3)     To note the findings on equalities and other impacts arising from the proposed Council Tax Support scheme as set out in sections 5 and 10 of the report.

 

(4)     To approve the decision not to offer Transitional Protection to existing claimants who are adversely affected by the change to the new scheme, for the reasons set out in Section 5 of the report

 

(5)     To note alternative scheme options that existed and the reasons for these options being discarded.

 

(6)     To note the draft plan of implementation activities scheduled between December 2019 and March 2020.

Minutes:

Councillor Southwood introduced the report from the Strategic Director, Customer and Digital Services seeking approval to the adoption of a new local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

 

Councillor Southwood began her introduction by highlighting the vital contribution made by Council Tax in funding key local services provided by the Council, including Adult Social Care.  At the same time, however, Councillor Southwood advised she was also aware of the burden Council Tax payments placed on some residents, especially those experiencing severe poverty, with had resulted in the Council providing support through its Council Tax Support Scheme.  Members were advised that the review of the current scheme had been driven by the recent changes to the welfare system, as the scheme had become more complicated and less sustainable to operate, with the report presenting the outcome of that review and changes being proposed as a result.

 

Highlighting the key changes, Councillor Southwood felt it was important to assure Members that these would not affect pensioners and had been focussed on supporting working age residents identified as less able to pay and those more vulnerable individuals or households, including carers and those with disabilities.  The proposals had been subject to a full public consultation process and developed in conjunction with a cross party Working Group of Members.  The revised scheme that had been developed as a result was a banded one and met the objective of being simple and fair.  The scheme had also been designed to recognise that some households may include non-dependants with a higher level of earning with the Council looking to work with those households affected, in order to understand the changes being proposed.

 

In developing the scheme, Councillor Southwood advised that the Administration was aware the proposed changes would not deliver the original level of savings identified as part of the previous budget setting process.  This had, however, been a conscious decision in order to ensure that the scheme was able to support and protect the most vulnerable residents.  She ended by thanking all those involved in developing the revised scheme including officers within the Council’s Benefits Team for their efforts and support.  Particular thanks were expressed to David Oates, as Head of Customer Services Operations, for his lead on the process with Members also taking the opportunity to wish him well for his forthcoming retirement from the Council.

 

The Mayor then opened the debate inviting other Members to speak on the report.

 

Councillor McLennan, speaking as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, also took the opportunity to thank officers for their efforts on the review.  Recognising that the proposed changes would not deliver the same level of savings as originally identified, she felt it was more important that the proposals had resulted in a balanced scheme.  She also took the opportunity to pay tribute to David Oates for his support and work undertaken when the scheme was first introduced, and on its subsequent revision.

 

Councillor Choudhary, speaking as a member of the cross party Working group that had assisted with the review, advised that he also wished to thank officers for their efforts and advice in supporting what had been a complex process.

 

As no further issues were raised and Councillor Southwood had indicated she did not want to exercise her right of reply, the Mayor put the recommendations to the vote by a show of hands and they were unanimously declared CARRIED.

 

It was therefore RESOLVED:

 

(1)    To approve and authorise the making and implementation of the recommended Council Tax Support Scheme as set out in section 4 and Appendix A of the report, to be effective from 1 April 2020.

 

(2)    To note the outcome of the consultation on proposals to change the Local Council Tax Support scheme, as detailed in Section 6 and Appendices G & H of the report.

 

(3)    To note the findings on equalities and other impacts arising from the proposed Council Tax Support scheme as set out in sections 5 and 10 of the report.

 

(4)    To approve the decision not to offer Transitional Protection to existing claimants who are adversely affected by the change to the new scheme, for the reasons set out in Section 5 of the report

 

(5)    To note alternative scheme options that existed and the reasons for these options being discarded.

 

(6)    To note the draft plan of implementation activities scheduled between December 2019 and March 2020.

Supporting documents: