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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 7 April, 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Council Tax Help for the Over 60s and 70s

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To agree a scheme for the Vale of Glamorgan to provide support to council tax payers aged over 60 who are in receipt of an award under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and those who are over the age of 70 and are not in receipt of an award under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

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 who are not in receipt of an award under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

2.         That Cabinet approves the scheme to remit Council Tax in the sum of £40 per household due to eligible Council Tax payers aged over 60 who are in receipt of an award under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

3.         That Cabinet approves the qualifying criteria set out in paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 of this report for entitlement to Council Tax remittal.

Reasons for the Recommendations

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

2.         To assist those aged over 60 with payment of their Council Tax.

3.         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).  A scheme providing a discount of £40 for eligible household was operated in 2013/14.

3.         In addition, until 2013/14, the Welsh Government provided a specific grant for a national scheme to assist pensioners with payment of the Council Tax.  As part of the 2014/15 settlement, these resources were subsumed into the council’s revenue support grant allowing council to choose whether or not to provide such support in future.

4.         The Revenue Budget, which was approved by Council on 5th March 2014, includes a further £30k to extend the Council’s Over 70s Council Tax Discount Scheme to pensioners aged over 60 in receipt of partial council tax reduction in order to mitigate the withdrawal of the national scheme.

5.         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.

6.         The Council has the ability to reduce the amount payable in respect of eligible applicants under the scheme who meet the criteria in line with Financial Regulations.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         To keep administration costs to a reasonable level, the scheme is based on the information held within the Council’s Electoral Registration and Benefits systems. A fixed monetary amount 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 meets the qualifying age. The scheme will exclude households where a person meets the qualifying age, but is not liable for the bill.

8.         An exercise has been carried out to extract data from the Council’s Electoral Registration and Benefits systems. It is estimated that 10,100 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 monetary amount of £40 is affordable within the budget available. This will also allow an amount for administration costs, including printing, postage, staffing and processing costs.

9.         In order to keep administration costs to a minimum, the fixed monetary amount of £40 will be automatically applied to those accounts that received the award in 2013/14 providing they continue to meet the qualifying criteria. The remaining potential beneficiaries of the scheme identified from the Council’s Electoral Registration system 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 received an assessment will be made to ensure that the qualifying criteria are met.   

10.      Once the fixed monetary amount of £40 is applied to the account of eligible households the Council Tax payer will receive an amended account showing the amount 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

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

 

EITHER

·        Eligible persons must be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a chargeable dwelling which is their sole or main residence on 1st April 2014;

·        Eligible persons must be aged 70 years or over on the 1st April 2014;

·        Eligible persons must not be in receipt of Council Tax Reduction on the 1st April 2014;

 

OR

·        Eligible persons must be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a chargeable dwelling which is their sole or main residence on 1st April 2014;

·        Eligible persons must be aged 60 years or over on the 1st April 2014;

·        Eligible persons must be in receipt of Council Tax Reduction on the 1st April 2014;

 

12.      In any event the maximum remittal will be restricted to the lesser of £40 or the total net Council Tax liability for the financial year 2014/15 (i.e. after any other reduction or discount).

13.      Where it is estimated that the entitlement would be below £5 then the award will not apply.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.      A budget of £380k has been made available to fund the scheme.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      The relevant legislation and regulations are outlined in the report

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      None

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      The scheme takes account of equalities issues

18.      An Equality Impact assessment has been carried out and is attached at Appendix 1.  It is considered that sufficient measures are in place to promote take up of Council Tax Reduction and electoral registration and that is would not be cost effective to have a scheme based on individual applications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

20.      The matter is for Executive Decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

21.      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

22.      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 Resources

 

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