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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 1st July 2013

Report of the Leader

Council Tax Help for Over 70s

Purpose of the Report

1. To agree a scheme to provide support to council tax payers aged over 70 and not in receipt of Council Tax Reduction for the Vale of Glamorgan

Recommendations

1. That Cabinet approves the scheme to remit Council Tax in the sum of £40 per household due to eligible Council Tax payers aged over 70 on the basis of applications received.

2. That Cabinet approves the qualifying criteria set out in paragraphs 10 and 11of this report for entitlement to Council Tax remittal.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To assist those aged over 70 with their Council Tax payments.

2. To set eligibility criteria.

Background

2. The Corporate Plan, which was approved by Council on 6th March 2013, includes an action (CL13) to introduce a council Tax discount scheme for those over 70 who do not already receive Council Tax benefit or support (now known as Council Tax reduction). 

3. The Revenue Budget, which was also approved by Council on 6th March 2013 includes a budget of £350,000 to cover the costs of the Council Tax discount scheme for the over 70s (the scheme). It was also recommended that a report should be made to a future meeting of Cabinet to agree the details of the scheme.

4. Under paragraph 10.10 of the Financial Regulations any debt due to the Council, once established, shall not be discharged, other than by payment in full or by such other means approved by the Council.

5. The Council has the ability to remit an appropriate amount in respect of eligible applicants under the scheme who meet the criteria in line with Financial Regulations.

6. Since 2009 the Council has received funding from the Welsh Government to operate a local discount scheme for pensioners which provided a discount to Council Tax payers on partial Council Tax Benefit.    In 2012/13 a discount of up to £120 was provided. The Welsh Government is proposing a similar scheme for 2013/14 to run on an all Wales basis to apply to pensioners in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, which has replaced Council Tax Benefit. 

Relevant Issues and Options

7. To keep administration costs to a reasonable level, the scheme is based on Council Tax payers included on the register of electors who are aged over 70 on 30th June 2013. The scheme applies to Council Tax payers who are not in receipt of any Council Tax Reduction. A fixed monetary discount will be applied to the bill of each account eligible for the scheme, i.e. to households where a person liable to pay the council tax bill is aged over 70. The scheme will exclude households where a person aged over 70 is resident, but not liable for the bill.

8. An exercise has been carried out to match data from the electoral register and the Council Tax system to identify persons / households eligible for the scheme. It is estimated that 8,000 households would be eligible to benefit from the scheme. However, the final number of eligible households will be dependant on the number of applications received. On the basis of this data it has been established that a fixed discount of £40 is affordable within the budget available. The will also allow an amount for administration costs, including printing, postage, staffing and processing costs.

9. Council Tax payers identified from the data match will be sent an application form for the scheme, requiring them to confirm their liability for Council Tax and confirm their date of birth / age. This will be undertaken using a turnaround document returnable to a freepost address. Once the application is processed the Council Tax payer will receive an amended account showing the discount credited to their Council Tax account under the scheme. The amended account will set out revised instalments payable for the rest of the year. Where the account has been paid in full, a refund will be made.

Eligibility Criteria

10. It is proposed that the eligibility criteria for the scheme are as follows: -

 Eligible persons must be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a chargeable dwelling which is their sole or main residence on 30th June 2013;

 Eligible persons must be aged 70 years or over on 30th June 2013;

 Eligible persons must not be in receipt of Council Tax Reduction on the 30th June 2013;

11. The maximum remittal will be restricted to the lesser of £40 or the total net Council Tax liability for the financial year 2013/14 (i.e. after any other reduction or discount).

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12. An amount of £350,000 has been made available to cover the cost of the scheme.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13. The scheme is pursuant to powers to introduce the local discounts as contained in Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14. None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15. The scheme takes account of equalities issues.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16. The policy assists the Council in achieving the key corporate aim of promoting social well-being and tackling disadvantage.

Policy Framework and Budget

17. The matter is for Executive Decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18. Any means of discharging a debt approved by the Council is in line with Financial Regulations and has not been subject to consultation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19. Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Clive Teague

Head of Financial Services

Tel (01446 709204)

Officers Consulted

Revenues and Benefits Manager

Council Tax Manager

Responsible Officer:

Siân Davies – Director of Resource

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