To seek Cabinet decision on the final proposals for the 2020/21 Council Tax Support scheme, to be presented to Council for approval on 22 January 2020 (report of the Portfolio Holder Finance and the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151 Officer) enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Portfolio Holder for Finance and the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151), which sought Cabinet decision on the final proposals for the 2020/21 Local Council Tax Support Scheme, to be presented to Council on 22 January 2020.
That the following recommendations be approved and recommended to Council:
RECOMMENDATION TO FULL COUNCIL:
a) That the scheme be uprated and harmonised as appropriate to the DWP welfare reforms in Housing Benefit, and the prescribed scheme for pensioners for 2020/21 and future years;
b) That a link to the award of Universal Credit be introduced, removing the need for customers to make a separate application for Council Tax Support;
c) That a £15 weekly (£65 monthly) tolerance rule for Universal Credit customer change in earnings be introduced; and
d) That delegation be agreed to the Executive Director Commercialisation, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance, to approve the final scheme policy in line with the report.
(Other options considered:
· Continuation of the current scheme into 2020/21, uprated in line with DWP’s annual update of allowances and premiums for housing benefit, but not to introduce the link to Council Tax Support, or the tolerance rule for earnings. This would require Universal Credit claimants to continue to make a separate application for Council Tax Support (CTS) to the local authority, and require CTS to be recalculated for all monthly changes in Universal Credit;
· Do nothing. This would have the effect of carrying the 2019/20 scheme over to 2020/21 without any changes (other than the prescribed changes for pensioners.
Reasons for decision:
· To continue to align the CTS scheme and uprating for working age customer with DWP provisions for Housing Benefit and the CTS scheme for pensioners. This has been consistent each year since the introduction of local Council Tax Support schemes, and if determined for 2020/21 and future years, would remove the need for the decision to be taken each year, however it would not prevent a different decision in future years if desired;
· Linking CTS with the award for Universal Credit would make it simpler and more timely for customers to access CTS, preventing delay and potential loss in support (under scheme rules, if an application is made late it can only be backdated for 1 month);
· Introducing a tolerance for earnings changes would reduce the number of notifications customers received to amend their Council Tax payments, and provide stability for customer repayments whilst at the same time potentially reducing customer contact).