What is Council Tax Support?

The Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme helps households on low incomes to pay their council tax. Under the current scheme, working-age households liable for council tax are able to claim up to 80 per cent of the council tax charge, dependent upon their circumstances. (Working-age is anyone under Pension Credit age). Residents with a disability premium or lone parents with a child under five could be eligible to claim up to 100 per cent of the council tax charge.

Council Tax Support is currently calculated using the old Council Tax Benefit Regulations. This is a complex, means – tested calculation, comparing your household income to how much money the government says you (and your partner) need to live on each week (this is called the applicable amount). The applicable amount depends on the size and circumstances of your household. For more information about this calculation please see the current scheme.

The changes that we are proposing in our new scheme will not affect pensioners as they remain protected under the previous legislation.  They will only affect those of working age who receive Universal Credit. 

The Council Tax Support scheme currently helps about 3,300 working age households on a low income to pay their council tax in Hertsmere.

Why are we proposing a new Council Tax Support Scheme?

Since Council Tax Support (CTS) was introduced, the scheme in Hertsmere has been a reflection of the housing benefit and previous council tax benefit regulations.

Universal Credit (UC) has brought many changes. These differences include:

  • Monthly awards (rather than weekly)
  • Earned income updates direct from HMRC

Because UC gets its information via a direct link to HMRC, any change in income is automatically reflected in a change to the UC award. Claimants with a change of income on a monthly basis will see UC changed accordingly.

Under our current Council Tax Support scheme, every time there is a change of any income there is also an amendment to the CTS award, so for UC claimants with monthly changes, the CTS award could also be adjusted every month.  This can cause a lot of uncertainty for the claimant.

Having to administer these changes is also resource intensive and results in complicated assessments that claimants find difficult to follow and can lead to unnecessary arrears.

Under the proposed scheme, a claimant can have an increase in income without their Council Tax Support being affected unless their earned income means a change of the income band.

How do the proposed changes affect me?

You will not be affected by the changes if:

  • You are of state pension age. 
  • You are working age but are receiving benefits other than Universal Credit.  However, the new scheme may apply to you if you move over to Universal Credit in the future.
  • If you receive Universal Credit and are not in work there should be no difference to the amount that you pay. The scheme that we are proposing will mean 100 per cent council tax support for vulnerable groups, the same as defined in our current scheme and up to 80 per cent council tax support for everyone else – as it is now.

Therefore the only people affected by this change will be working age claimants who are earning and receiving Universal Credit.

We want the value of awards to be about the same as they are now – which means we are not looking to reduce the amount of council tax support that you might get. It is not our intention to reduce the level of awards with this change. We have therefore set the rates so no-one is significantly worse or better off.

Although it is inevitable that those affected may see a small difference in how much they have to pay, those who are affected will also notice a much simpler assessment and have a clearer idea of how much council tax they need to pay each month.

What is the proposed Council Tax Support Scheme for working age claimants receiving Universal Credit?

Our proposed scheme will have the following bands:

Income Band

Earnings per week

Contribution towards Council Tax by Claimant

0

Protected Group

0%

1

Less than £60.00

20%

2

£60.00 - £100

40%

3

£100.01 - £200

60%

4

£200.01 - £400

80%

5

Over £400

100%

As per the current scheme, 100% CTS can be awarded for claimants where:

  • They are a lone parent responsible for a child under five.
  • The applicant, partner or child receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) at any rate
  • The applicant or partner receives Employment Support Allowance including the support component.

 

Non-dependants (adults living in the property as part of the household – usually grown up children) are treated in the same way as under the current scheme.

The council tax calculation will be based on a maximum Band D level as it is now for non-vulnerable households.

How will the proposed banding scheme be calculated?

The calculation is much simpler under the banded scheme than the current scheme.

The only income taken into consideration is net earnings. This is a claimant’s earnings after income tax, national insurance and 50% of their pension contributions (The current scheme also uses this calculation to identify net earnings). To calculate how much a couple can receive, they should combine their household take home pay and compare to the above table.

Earnings can increase within an income band and have no effect on the level of support; therefore, greatly limiting the possibility of monthly revised council tax bills. A claimant’s council tax bill will only be revised when they move into the next income band.

Examples of how the new banding scheme would be applied

Case Type

Weekly Earnings

Council Tax Liability

Current Award

New Award

Difference

Single Claimant

£147.78

£25.29

£10.29

£10.12

-£0.17

Couple with one child

£264.53

£31.30

£5.13

£6.26

£1.13

Couple with two children

£324.97

£33.86

£6.89

£6.77

-£0.12

Lone Parent one child

£81.23

£22.03

£12.67

£13.22

£0.55

Lone Parent two children

£293.02

£22.03

£6.01

£4.41

-£1.60

  

Have your say:

We would like to hear your views.  You can complete our short, online survey anonymously. 

You can also email us with your comments.   

Or you can write to us with your views:
Council Tax, Hertsmere Borough Council, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood WD6 1WA