A report from Executive Director Resources, Fay Hammond, is attached. (Report No: 157) (Key Decision Reference Number: KD: 5032)
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Executive Director Resources (No: 157) recommending Council approval on the Council Tax Support Scheme for 2020/21.
1. This scheme is about how we help the poorest families with their council tax.
2. For 202/21 it was proposed to make a 2% reduction in the amount the poorest would have to pay, which would affect about 12,000 council tax payers, and increase the income taper. Some people will have to pay 60p less and others affected 49p more.
3. It was also proposed to make an administrative change to respond to alterations in the way universal credit is implemented and make it fairer to those in receipt of universal credit compared to those who are not.
4. One hundred and eight people responded to the public consultation.
5. There will be a transitional hardship fund supplementing the existing discretionary Council Tax Hardship Scheme, available to those who need it. The Citizens Advice Bureau receives a grant from the Council of £345,000, including for the provision of debt advice to Enfield residents
6. The scheme will help those of working age in certain protected groups, including war widows and care leavers.
7. Work is being carried out to further support those in debt. The Council is reducing the use of bailiffs and providing help to get people out of debt.
8. Members were pleased to have been able to reduce the amount the poorest households will have had to pay, after a number of years of increase. They hoped to reduce it further in the future.
Alternative Options Considered: Included within the report.
1. That Cabinet recommends to Council that Council agrees the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2020/21 as summarised in Appendix A to provide financial support for households on low incomes in paying their Council Tax taking into account the Equality Impact Assessment (Appendix B) and the results of the customer consultation shown at Appendix C. The 2020/21 scheme is based on the 2019/20 scheme, updated for legislative amendments, income uprating and administrative changes and the following changes which were the subject of public consultation:
For the 2020/21 scheme:
· Reducing the council tax support minimum payment for working age claimants from 26.5% to 24.5% and increasing the excess income taper from 20% to 22.5%, and
· To reduce the earned income threshold for working age council tax support claimants receiving Universal Credit from £1,265 to £1,100 per month (note the one-year transitional protection for existing claimants to be provided as part of the council tax support hardship scheme).
Reason for Recommendations:
The recommendations contained in this report follow an assessment of options, experience of operating the scheme to date and the Equality Impact Assessment. The recommended changes introduced in 2014 for defined protected groups and the further extension of care leavers under the Equality Impact Assessment support the Council’s aims to build strong, stable communities and are recommended to be continued next year.