New scheme will ensure that households on low incomes will receive support

People will soon be able to have their say on proposals designed to ensure that households on low incomes will continue to receive support to pay their council tax.

Chichester District Council has just carried out a review of its Council Tax Reduction Scheme and will soon be consulting on proposals for how the scheme might look in 2018 - 2019.

Four years ago, new rules were introduced by the Government which abolished the Council Tax Benefit Scheme that had helped people on low incomes.

Councils were then allowed to develop their own schemes to help working aged people pay their council tax, while pensioners were fully protected from reductions. The scheme introduced by Chichester District Council was largely based on the old government scheme.

One proposal to be consulted on is to introduce a banded scheme for working age customers who receive Universal Credit. If the current scheme was left unchanged, then the amount of Council Tax Reduction awarded could change month to month. A banded scheme would make it easier for households to understand and budget. It would also be easier and more cost effective to administer.

In addition to this, the council is also exploring the idea of setting up a discretionary hardship fund to run alongside this which would be flexible to people in difficult circumstances.

The alternative proposal is to leave the scheme unchanged, apart from some minor updating to bring the scheme in line with changes to the Housing Benefit scheme and any other welfare reform changes. 

The scheme would be unchanged for those of pension age.

"As a council we want to continue to support people on low incomes and we are very proud of the fact that this has always been a priority," says Councillor Philippa Hardwick, Cabinet Member for Finance at Chichester District Council. "The introduction of Universal Credit is a big change and we want to ensure that we make things as easy as we can for people so that they know what they will be paying each month. We think a banded scheme is the best way to achieve this. The hardship fund will also allow us to be flexible to each person's circumstances."

Date of Release: 18 July 2017  

Reference: 3737