Council Tax Reduction Scheme - 2018-19

We want to hear your views on proposed changes to Medway Council's working age Council Tax Reduction scheme.

This survey runs from
Friday 11 August 2017 to 5pm on Monday 6 November 2017. Only surveys received back during this period will be considered.

Your personal data will be processed in accordance with Medway Council’s Data Protection Notice

If you have any queries please contact ctax@medway.gov.uk

Introduction

Medway Council has a Council Tax Reduction scheme to help people on low incomes with payment of their council tax. This scheme is separate to other discounts such as single persons, students or young people, empty or second homes or disabled persons.

There are two groups in the current Medway Council Tax Reduction scheme:

·Claimants of pensionable age, or those in receipt of a war widow or war disablement pension, can claim, and may be entitled to a maximum reduction of 100 per cent of their council tax liability

·Claimants of working age can claim and may be entitled to a maximum of 65 per cent of their council tax liability from the 1 April 2016.

The rules that apply to the Council Tax Reduction scheme for working age people are set by Medway Council, whilst the rules that apply to the pension age scheme are set by the government.

When the Council Tax Reduction scheme for working age people was set up it was based on the rules and allowances that were set for Housing Benefits and the pension age Council Tax Reduction scheme.

Since then the government has made a number of changes to Housing Benefits and the pension age Council Tax Reduction scheme. Medway Council is proposing to include these changes in the working age Council Tax Reduction scheme.

The proposed changes will affect the following parts of the scheme:-
·Backdating of claims
·The family premium
·Temporary absences
·The number of children who can be included in a claim
·Employment Support Allowance components
·The Severe Disability Premium
·Bereavement Support payments
·Introducing a De-minimis limit

Each proposed change is explained throughout the survey and you will have the opportunity to give your views on why you agree or disagree with the proposed changes.

Backdating CTR Claims

In Medway’s current scheme a claim for Council Tax Reduction (CTR) from a person of working age can be backdated for up to 6 months, if there is a good reason for the delay in making a claim (this is normally for health or personal reasons). This was in line with the Housing Benefit Regulations at the time that the Council Tax Reduction scheme was introduced.

From April 2016 the Government changed the Housing Benefit Regulations so that the maximum period that a housing benefit claim can be backdated for working age people is 1 month.

We are proposing that Medway’s Council Tax Reducation scheme should be changed to match the Housing Benefit Regulations. Which would mean that from 1 April 2018 the maximum amount of time a claim can be backdated for is 1 month from the date a claim is made, as long as there is a good reason.

Q1 Do you agree that the amount of time that Council Tax Reduction claims can be backdated for should be reduced from 6 months to 1 month?
 
 
Q2

Temporary Absences

As long as they plan to return home the current Council Tax Reduction scheme allows a working age person to be away from home for 13 weeks whilst still receiving Council Tax Reduction. This is in line with the Housing Benefit Regulations that were in force at the time the scheme was introduced.

On 28 July 2016, the government changed the Housing Benefit Regulations for temporary absences. From this date the amount of time someone could be away from home and outside of Great Britain, was reduced from 13 weeks to 4 weeks. The prescribed Council Tax Reduction scheme for pensioners was updated to reflect these changes from 1 April 2017.

We are proposing that Medway’s Council Tax Reduction scheme should be changed from 1 April 2018 so that working age people cannot continue to receive Council Tax Reduction if they are away from their home and outside of Great Britain for a period of 4 weeks or more.

The proposed change to the working age scheme will not affect someone who is away from their home but remains in Great Britain; they will still receive Council Tax Reduction for up to 13 weeks.

Q3 Do you agree that the amount of time a claimant can be away from home and outside of Great Britain before their Council Tax Reduction claim is stopped should be changed from 13 weeks to 4 weeks?
 
 
Q4

Family Premium

Unless a claimant is in receipt of income related benefits the amount of Council Tax Reduction received is based on a comparison of the claimant’s income to an applicable amount. The applicable amount is based on the allowances and premiums a claimant can get and will change depending on their age, health, family circumstances, and any other qualifying benefits.

The higher the difference between a claimant’s income and the applicable amount the more Council Tax Reduction a claimant can get.


In the current working age Council Tax Reduction scheme a family premium of £17.45 is included in the applicable amount where a claimant is responsible for one or more dependent children.

This amount was set in line with the amount the government set for Housing Benefit Regulations and the prescribed Council Tax Reduction scheme for pensioners  at the time that Medway’s Council Tax Reduction scheme was introduced. However, from the 1 May 2016, the government changed the Housing Benefit Regulations and the prescribed Council Tax Reduction Regulations for pensioners. From that date a family premium was not granted for any new claims received and on existing claims where the claimant becomes responsible for a child for the first time.

We are proposing that Medway’s working age Council Tax Reduction scheme is changed so that a Family Premium is not granted for any new claims made on or after 1 April 2018 or where a person becomes responsible for a child for the first time on or after 1 April 2018.

Q5 Do you agree that from 1 April 2018 the family premium should no longer be awarded for any new Council Tax Reduction claims?
 
 
Q6 Do you agree that the family premium should no longer be awarded to existing Council Tax Reduction claimants who become responsible for a child for the first time on or after 1 April 2018?
 
 
Q7 Do you agree that any claimant who is in receipt of the family premium as of 31 March 2018 should continue to get the family premium until they make a new claim or they no longer have responsibility for a child or young person?
 
 
Q8

Limit on the number of children as part of claims

Unless a claimant is in receipt of income related benefits the amount of Council Tax Reduction received is based on a comparison of the claimant’s income to an applicable amount. The applicable amount is based on the allowances and premiums a claimant can get and will change depending on their age, health, family circumstances, and any other qualifying benefits.

The higher the difference between a claimant’s income and the applicable amount the more Council Tax Reduction a claimant can get.


In the current working age Council Tax Reduction scheme there is a child premium of £66.90 included in the applicable amount for every dependent child who lives in the claimant’s household.  This amount was set in line with the amount the government set for Housing Benefit Regulations and the prescribed Council Tax Reduction scheme for pensioners  at the time that Medway’s Council Tax Reduction scheme was introduced.

However, on 6 April 2017 the government changed the Housing Benefit Regulations so that the maximum number of children a child premium could be granted for was 2, unless the third or subsequent children are included in the child tax credit assessment. The changes only affect new claims or existing claims where a third or subsequent children was born on or joined the household from 6 April 2017.

We are proposing that Medway’s working age Council Tax Reduction scheme is changed to bring it into line with the Housing Benefit Regulations. This will mean that a child premium will not be given for a third or subsequent child for all new claims, and will not be given as part of existing claims for a third or subsequent child who was born or joins the household from 1 April 2018.

Anyone with three or more children on their existing claim will continue to receive a child premium for each dependent child, as long as the child was born or joined the household before 1 April 2018.

Q9 Do you agree that the number of children who can be included in a Council Tax Reduction assessment should be limited to 2 for all new claims from 1 April 2018?
 
 
Q10 Do you agree that the number of children who can be included in a Council Tax Reduction assessment should be limited to 2 for any existing claims where a third or subsequent child is born or joins the household from 1 April 2018?
 
 
Q11

Employment and Support Allowance

Unless a claimant is in receipt of income related benefits the amount of Council Tax Reduction received is based on a comparison of the claimant’s income to an applicable amount. The applicable amount is based on the allowances and premiums a claimant can get and will change depending on their age, health, family circumstances, and any other qualifying benefits.

The higher the difference between a claimant’s income and the applicable amount the more Council Tax Reduction a claimant can get.


In the current Council Tax Reduction scheme, when a person is placed in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity group by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) they get an extra allowance added to their applicable amount. This extra allowance offsets the additional income they get from being in the Work Related Activity group. This means their Council Tax Reduction stays at the same level despite receiving additional income. This extra allowance was set in line with the allowance the government set for Housing Benefit Regulations at the time the Council Tax Reduction scheme was introduced.

However, from 3 April 2017 anyone who is placed in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group by the DWP no longer receives additional income, therefore the Housing Benefit regulations have been changed so that an extra allowance is no longer included in the applicable amount.

Medway’s Council Tax Reduction scheme still gives an extra allowance in the applicable amount, meaning someone who is placed in the Work Related Activity Group will receive an increased amount of Council Tax Reduction although they now do not get any additional income.

We are proposing that Medway’s working age Council Tax Reduction scheme should be amended from 1 April 2018 to bring it into line with the Housing Benefit scheme so that an extra allowance is not added to the applicable amount when a person is placed into the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group by the DWP.

Q12 Do you agree that an extra allowance should no longer be added to the applicable amount when a person is placed into the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related activity Group by the DWP?
 
 
Q13

Severe Disability Premium

Unless a claimant is in receipt of income related benefits the amount of Council Tax Reduction received is based on a comparison of the claimant’s income to an applicable amount. The applicable amount is based on the allowances and premiums a claimant can get and will change depending on their age, health, family circumstances, and any other qualifying benefits.

The higher the difference between a claimant’s income and the applicable amount the more Council Tax Reduction a claimant can get.

In the current working age Council Tax Reduction scheme there is a Severe Disability Premium of £62.45 included in the applicable amount for someone who receives Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance, lives alone, and where nobody receives Carers Allowance for caring for them. For those receiving Universal Credit, a carer element is included in their award where the person is providing care, regardless of whether they are receiving Carers Allowance.

To ensure equal treatment between the rules for these previous benefits and Universal Credit the government changed the Housing Benefit Regulations and the prescribed Council Tax Reduction Regulations for pensioners from 1 April 2016. This meant that a Severe Disability Premium would not be included in a person’s applicable amount if they received care from someone who was in receipt of Universal Credit with a carer’s element for caring for the Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction recipient.

We are proposing that the Council Tax Reduction scheme is amended with effect from 1 April 2018 to come into line with the government’s changes so that a working age Council Tax Reduction claimant is not granted a Severe Disability Premium if they receive care from someone who gets Universal Credit that includes a carer element for caring for them.

Q14 Do you agree that the Severe Disability Premium should not be included when calculating the amount of council tax reduction if someone receives Universal Credit with a carers element for caring for the Council Tax Reduction claimant?
 
 
Q15

Bereavement Support

From 6 April 2017 a new benefit was introduced by the Department for Work and Pension for people whose spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6 April 2017, replacing a number of other previous benefits.

Recipients of Bereavement Support Payments are entitled to a lump sum payment of either £3,500 or £2,500 and a monthly payment of either £350 or £100 for up to 18 months. The higher amounts are granted to people who are pregnant or have dependent children, and the lower amounts are granted to people who have no dependants.


The Housing Benefit Regulations and the prescribed Council Tax Reduction Regulations for pensioners were changed to take Bereavement Support Payments into consideration. This change meant that the lump sum payments should not be included when calculating entitlement to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction for pension age claimants. It also meant that the monthly awards should not be included for 1 month, and any amount that was not spent at the end of the month should be treated as capital and included when calculating entitlements. The result of these changes is that Bereavement Support Payments, in almost all cases, are not included when calculating either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction for pension age claimants.


As this is a new benefit there are no rules about it within Medway’s current Council Tax Reduction scheme. This means any Bereavement Support Payments, whether it is the lump sum or monthly income, would be included when calculating the amount of council tax reduction. As a result the claimant would receive a lower amount of council tax reduction.

We are proposing that the Council Tax Reduction Scheme should be amended with effect from 1 April 2018 so that Bereavement Support Payments are not included when calculating the amount of council tax reduction for working age claimants.

Q16 Do you agree that bereavement support payments should not be included as income when working out how much Council Tax Reduction someone can get?
 
 
Q17

De-minimis Limit

In the current Council Tax Reduction scheme and Council Tax Regulations every time there is a change in an award of Council Tax Reduction a notification letter and a revised council tax bill must be produced.

Due to the nature of the Council Tax Reduction assessment process entitlement often changes by small amounts and results in instalments being revised regularly. When Universal Credit fully rolls out these changes will become more frequent because changes to income can be monthly.

Frequent changes are very confusing for claimants as they will regularly get paperwork from the council showing very minimal changes in their Council Tax reduction entitlement or instalment plans.  Changing monthly instalments will also make it difficult for claimants to budget. For the Council if someone has a lot of changes in their council tax reduction it could delay collecting council tax owed.

We are proposing that a negative de-minimis limit of £0.99 per week is introduced to changes in the level of Council Tax Reduction.

A de-minimis limit helps protect Council Tax Reduction claimants from small changes in their entitlement amount. It would mean:-
·If a claimant was entitled to more they would still get it.
·If a claimant was entitled to less, but that change was less than £1, they would still get the same amount they had been getting. A new Council Tax bill and payment schedule will not be sent.
·If a claimant was entitled to less, but that change was by £1 or more, their Council Tax Reduction award would be reduced and a new Council Tax bill and payment schedule sent.

Q18 Do you agree that Council Tax Reduction payments should include a de-minimis limit?
 
 
Q19

Other Considerations

Q20
Q21

About you

Q22 Do you pay Council Tax to Medway Council?
 
 
Q23 Do you currently receive Council Tax Reduction?
 
 
Q24 Do you receive a State Pension or Pension Credits?
 
 
We collect the following information to help us better understand the communities that we serve so that services and policies can be delivered to meet the needs of everybody. Please feel free to leave questions that you do not wish to answer. All of the information gathered in this questionnaire is confidential.
Q25 Sex - Are you?
 
 
Q26 How old are you?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Q27 Do you have a long-standing health problem or disability? Long-standing means anything that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?
 
 
Q28 If yes, what is the nature of your health problem or disability? (PLEASE TICK ALL THAT APPLY)
 
 
 
 
 
Q29 What is your ethnic group?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thank you for taking the time to give your views about Medway’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme

All surveys should be returned by
5pm on 6 November 2017

Completed surveys will be kept until 7 November 2022 and will then be destroyed.

Your personal data will be processed in accordance with Medway Council’s Data Protection Notice.

Please press submit to send us your views
After pressing submit you will be taken back to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme pages on the Medway Council website.

 
   
  Clear Answers from this Page