Last Modified December 19, 2013
From April 2013, as part of the Government's national welfare reform programme, Council Tax Benefit was abolished and has been replaced with a locally-designed scheme of Council Tax Support.
The amount of funding that we, and authorities like Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Police, will receive to fund the scheme has been reduced by just over 10% in 2013/14 and so changes have been made about who will be eligible.
Who will be affected by the changes?
If you are claiming benefits and are of working age, with the exception of those listed in the groups below, you may need to pay more towards your council tax, even if you currently get 'full' benefit and don't make any payments towards your bill at the moment.
Who will not be affected?
Those who are currently in receipt of Council Tax Benefit and are:
A lone parent with a child under the age of five
will be protected and the changes will not affect you if you are in one of these groups.
Claimants are considered disabled if you or a member of your family receive any rate of Disability Living Allowance (mobility or care) or a Personal Independence Payment or receive the Support component of Employment Support Allowance. A member of your family means your partner or dependant children that you or your partner receive child benefit for. It doesn't, for example, mean grown up children who still live at home.
How much more will you have to pay?
From April 2013, Council Tax Benefit for working age claimants who are not protected will be calculated based upon 80% of how much the council tax charge is for the property. This means you will have to pay at least 20% of the council tax due. A claimant in an average property in the area might have to pay around £5 a week more.
What other changes could affect my Council Tax Support entitlement?
Council Tax Benefit claimants who are not in a protected group and are living in larger properties might be required to pay more than an additional £5 per week. Currently, a person can get up to 100% Council Tax Benefit, regardless of the size of their house, but it has now been agreed that the most that would be paid would be 80% of the charge for a Band D property in the area.
If there are other working adults living in a household where Council Tax Support is claimed, they will also be encouraged to contribute more towards the council tax for the property (called non-dependant deductions).
What should I do next?
If you are currently in receipt of Council Tax Benefit you will automatically be transferred to Council Tax Support from April and should receive details of your new entitlement during March.
If you are on a low income and feel you may be entitled to help with your council tax, you should contact our benefit office without delay.
What if I cannot afford to pay?
If you cannot afford to pay your Council Tax Bill is it important you contact the Council as soon as possible. We may be able to assist by spreading your Council Tax instalments over a longer period or by advising you of other benefits or financial help that may be available to you. Independent financial and debt advice is also available from the Citizen's Advice Bureau, so they may also be able to help.
Furthermore, Hertsmere Council have set aside a sum of money in 2013/14 to provide transitional assistance to claimants who have been affected by these changes to Council Tax Benefit but are struggling to pay their assessed share of the Council Tax for their home. If you would like to apply for additional financial help from this scheme, please contact the Benefit Office without delay. We will normally ask you to complete a short application form in which we will ask you to list not only your income, but also your expenses and whether your current financial circumstances are perhaps unusual or special. Each request will be considered on its merits and in accordance with our Discretionary Financial Assistance Policy and as such there is no guarantee that every application will be successful.
You can view full details of our Council Tax Support scheme for 2013/14 from the link below.