PROPOSALS to the council tax support scheme which aim to ‘maximise support’ for low-income households have been tabled by Barnsley Council – with public opinions sought on the potential changes.
Council tax support is offered to people with income below a certain level, as well as those receiving benefits such as jobseekers’ allowance, to help with council tax payments.
Currently, people of working age – even those on the lowest income – contribute at least 30 per cent of their council tax bill.
Council tax support (CTS) is means tested based on weekly household income and capital – money in savings or property – measured against an applicable amount set by the government.
And while this minimum contribution remains, from April several key changes could be made to the scheme that currently costs more than £16m and supports more than 21,000 people across the borough.
The shakeup will primarily see the benefit no longer being means tested. Instead, CTS will be based on a ‘grid’ system that looks at the net income for a household and its makeup – and therefore means the council does not need to be notified of minor income changes, nor will small fluctuations in entitlement occur.
A standard deduction of £25 will be taken from earned income for all residents. The council will no longer take into account any capital less than £6,000 – while people with capital of more than £6,000 will no longer qualify for CTS.
A household makeup of up to two children will be used when calculating the amount of support people receive, and there will be no additional allowance for households with three or more children.
While any additional adults living in the household currently affect entitlement, this will no longer be the case. Disability living allowance and Personal Independent Payments will not be included in the household income, as is currently the case, nor will specific income such as carers’ allowance, child benefit, attendance allowance or war pensions.
Coun Alan Gardiner, cabinet spokesman for corporate services, said: “It is important that residents have their say on changes that will directly affect them.
“These proposed changes will maximise support available for those eligible to the scheme and seek to better target support to those low-income households that need it the most.”
Localised council tax support for those with income below a certain level was introduced in 2013, when the government abolished the national council tax benefit.
For more information and to complete the survey, visit barnsley.gov.uk/council-tax-support-survey.
Alternatively, call 787376 to request a paper copy. Residents have until October 27 to complete the survey.