A report from the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services is attached. This recommends, for approval by Council, a Council Tax Support Scheme for 2014/15. (Key decision – reference number 3832)
(8.30 – 8.35 pm)
Councillor Andrew Stafford (Cabinet Member for Finance and Property) introduced the report of the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services (No.142) recommending a revised Council Tax Support Scheme for 2014/15.
1. That in January 2013 Council had agreed a new Council Tax Support Scheme to replace the previous national Council Tax Benefit Scheme which had been abolished by the Government in April 2013. Every year the Council was obliged to consider whether to revise or replace its local Council Tax Support Scheme. A revised Council Tax Support Scheme for 2014/15 was being recommended to Members as set out fully in the report. The Council had to adopt the same or new scheme by 31 January of the preceding financial year to which the scheme would apply.
2. The recommended amendments to the scheme as detailed in section 2 of the report and the financial implications of the proposals as set out in the report. The removal of the one month discount for empty and uninhabitable homes would enable the scheme to remain fully funded.
3. Councillor Taylor drew Members’ attention to paragraph 4.3 of the report with regard to the discretionary council tax hardship scheme. It was anticipated that this fund would roll over into 2014/15 and be topped up through the budget setting process as a way of protecting the most vulnerable.
4. Members were pleased to note the Council’s continued exceptional collection record.
Alternative Options Considered: NOTED that the Council had also considered not amending the scheme. However the experience of the first nine months of the scheme suggested that certain groups were being negatively impacted who had limited opportunities to find work and increase their income. The level of reduction of 19.5% was based on the scheme being fully funded and was calculated using the number of CTS recipients, collection rates, government grants and the cost of protecting pensioners and other protected groups. Without a full year’s collection rate, it was not recommended to change the percentage as at this stage there was no evidence of either a significant reduction in claimants, increased government grant or a surplus in collection. Therefore any change to the percentage would be likely to result in the scheme no longer being fully funded and alternative funding would need to be found to bridge the shortfall. This would require a further consultation before the deadline of 31 January 2014. The Government had confirmed that they would not be providing a transitional grant this year.
RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL
1. The Local Council Tax Support Scheme agreed for 2013/14 with the following amendments (as detailed in Appendix A for technical changes):
a) That working age recipients of Council Tax Support who also receive Carers Allowance, the support component of Employment Support Allowance or higher rate Disability Living Allowance (or Personal Independence Payments) were exempted from the 19.5% reduction applied to all other working age claimants.
b) That working age foster carers recruited, trained and supported by Enfield Council in receipt of Council ... view the full minutes text for item 8