(Report to follow).
The Financial Support Manager presented the Council Tax Support Scheme 2021/22 report and in so doing highlighted the following points for Members’ consideration:
· The Council Tax Support Scheme was reviewed on an annual basis.
· The amended scheme had been considered by Cabinet in draft form earlier in the municipal year and had subsequently been subject to public consultation in October 2020. The majority of those who had responded through the consultation process were broadly in support of the proposed scheme.
· The proposed changes would result in an increase in costs to the Council of approximately £136,000.
· The new banded scheme worked in a more integrated way with Universal Credit and make the process simpler for the customer.
· There would be an increase in the level of support to the most vulnerable residents.
· The hardship provisions from the previous were to be retained and residents whose eligibility had been reduced under the new scheme would be able to apply for these provisions.
The Chairman invited the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling to comment on the report. He reiterated the hardship provision included within the proposed new scheme and highlighted that those who were most in need would still receive support going forward. It was confirmed that the hardship provision information was available on the Council’s website and it was possible to apply for funding online and claims were dealt with by a specialist team that dealt with applications.
Following presentation of the report Members raised some concerns in respect of the data provided regarding the number of residents that might be adversely impacted by the proposed scheme. Officers were questioned whether any modelling had been conducted to understand the potential impact on residents in the District, particularly those who were to experience a decrease in the amount of Council Tax reduction they received. In addition to this, it was queried what the rationale was regarding the reduced level of support for the single person and childless couple client group which was included within the report. Officers confirmed that any Council Tax scheme was required to incentivise a return to work and the paragraph included within the report was not a comment on any particular client group.
Some Members commented that that although they understood the reservations expressed by some Members that it was positive that hardship provision was still available for those who were potentially affected by the new scheme. However, it was requested that the scheme be revisited in the next financial year to see if it was operating as expected. It was clarified that this scheme was revised or replaced on an annual basis.
After lengthy debate, Councillor R. Hunter proposed the following:
The decrease in Council Tax support for the 28% of residents, as detailed in the report, be quantified and presented to Cabinet before their consideration of the Council Tax Support Scheme report.
On being put to the vote this recommendation was lost.
Councillor P. McDonald presented an amendment to the Board in respect of the removal of the paragraph within the report regarding reduction in the amount of Council Tax support for those in the single person or childless couple client group. However, this recommendation was withdrawn and not put to the vote.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.