London,
17
June
2019
|
13:30
Europe/London

Have your say on changes to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Camden Council has today begun public consultation on changes to its Council Tax Reduction Scheme. 

Have your say now via our online survey (details on other ways to have your say are listed below). The consultation will be open until Sunday, 15 September 2019.

Camden Council recognises that many residents are under pressure from benefit changes, the high cost of housing and stagnating wages. The council currently spends over £25 million a year providing support to pay council tax for residents who are out of work or earning low incomes to ensure that nobody gets left behind. We are committed to continuing with this support.

However, the council is proposing to makes changes to the current support scheme, which is complex, out of date and has high administration costs.

The proposed new scheme for working-age households aims to be fairer, more simple and more affordable. 81% of residents will receive the same or more support under the new proposed scheme and pensioners will not be affected by the proposed changes.

The current scheme does not treat Universal Credit claimants in the same way as those on older style, legacy benefits. If the scheme stays as it is, we estimate that Universal Credit claimants in work would receive on average 9% less support than those in the same circumstances receiving legacy benefits. We do not think that is fair, which is one reason why we are proposing the changes.

The new scheme would come into effect from Wednesday, 1 April 2020. Camden Council will continue to invest £25 million a year into the scheme as we currently do.

The Government has stripped back its contribution to council tax support year on year since 2014 – and Camden Council has stepped in to fill the Government funding gap.

“We are proud of this scheme and we are committed to continuing to help our poorest households. 10,000 of our households who are either out of work or on low incomes would still not need to pay any council tax under our new proposal, whereas most other boroughs insist on a minimum contribution from all their residents, regardless of their circumstances. 

“Our proposed scheme provides additional financial support for families, disabled people and carers and continues support for families with young adults still living at home. We are also committing to ensuring households receiving Universal Credit will get the same support.

“This is a lengthy consultation period, in acknowledgment of the summer holidays, and we want to hear from as many residents as possible before making any final decisions. We want to be as fair as possible and keep up the maximum investment in this scheme that we can afford. We do not want our most hard-up residents to pay a further price for austerity.
Councillor Richard Olszewski, Cabinet Member for Finance & Transformation

Have your say:

You can take part by completing our online survey at camden.gov.uk/ctrs

Paper copies and alternative formats of the consultation document and questionnaire are available by

  • Email: ctrs@camden.gov.uk
  • Writing to: Alan Porter, Benefits Service, Camden Council, 5 Pancras Square, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AG.
  • Visiting: 5 Pancras Square, Kings Cross, N1C 4AG or your local library.

We will be holding drop in sessions where you can find out more and ask questions – these will be publicised in  local newspapers, local libraries, social media and on our website Camden.gov.uk/ctrs 

Under Camden’s Council’s new proposed Council Tax Reduction Scheme:

  • 10,000 out of work and low income households would still not need to pay any council tax, at a time when most boroughs require a minimum contribution from all residents.
  • 5,000 households would see an increase in support.
  • 7,300 households would retain the same level of support.
  • 2,900 households would see a reduction in support – these are households who tend to have a comparatively higher income.

Changes to the proposed scheme will save £500,000 in staffing and other administration costs by making processes more simple and reducing bureaucracy.

Sitting alongside this scheme is our new employment offer, which we’re investing £2m into upfront this year and £1.5m every single year from next year onwards. 

“This will offer better job support, to help our residents who have been out of work for a long period or may need adaptions in the workplace due to health reasons. We’ll also provide budgeting advice and a childcare support system.
Councillor Richard Olszewski, Cabinet Member for Finance & Transformation

Further information:

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) provides a reduction in council tax for residents who are out of work or earning low incomes. The reduction received is based on over 50 different pieces of information and is unique to the applicant, which means it can also be very difficult to understand. Until recently council tax reduction was assessed and awarded as part of a housing benefit application. Since the introduction of Universal Credit, those receiving Universal Credit have to apply separately for the council tax reduction.

At the moment, we spend £25 million a year on council tax reductions for 22,600 households. Of these, 15,000 households are working age and approximately 72% receive 100% reduction. This means they do not pay a contribution towards council tax.

In addition to council tax reduction, we offer a range of discounts and exemptions to council tax, such as the single person discount for those living alone. Discretionary exemptions have also been applied to foster carers and children leaving care. There are no proposed changes to these discounts and exemptions.

Of the £25 million we invest, the current scheme provides £9 million to pensioner households. By law we cannot reduce the support for pensioners and therefore the proposed changes do not affect pensioner households.

What are we aiming to achieve with a new scheme?

Our key aims for a proposed new scheme include:

  • No reduction in the total amount of financial support awarded to those in most need – we will continue to provide £25m in financial support for the poorest households in Camden (including £15m in Government grant).
  • Maintaining our commitment to ensuring the poorest households do not have to make a contribution to Council Tax – over 10,000 out of work and low income households will still not need to pay council tax.
  • Delivering fairness and simplicity for claimants on both Universal Credit and legacy benefits.
  • Supporting people’s transition to Universal Credit.
  • Reducing bureaucracy – enabling £500,000 to be saved in staffing and other costs.
  • Supporting young adults to stay with their families in Camden by removing non-dependent deductions for all claimants under 25 years old.
  • Targeting financial support at the households with the lowest incomes.
  • Providing additional support for families, disabled people and carers – we will not include benefits for children and disability in income calculations.
  • Providing greater certainty for those on low pay and incentives for people to work and to progress in work to earn more.