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Agenda Item No. 5

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council : 23 January 2013

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Council Tax Reduction Scheme - Further Information

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide updated information, following the Ministerial Statement made on 17th January 2013, and the amendment to the prescribed requirements and default scheme regulations. 

Recommendation – in addition to the recommendations in the main Report

1.             To note the making of the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations, 2013 by the Welsh Assembly on 22 January 2013.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1    To enable the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to be approved by Council by 31 January 2013 and be in place for implementation from 1 April 2013

 

Background

2.             On 19 December 2012, the National Assembly for Wales passed regulations to implement new arrangements to support those who are on low income pay their council tax in 2013-14. The 2012 Regulations set out that the maximum level of support that eligible claimants could receive would be 90 per cent. This reflected the transfer of funding from the UK Government. 

Relevant Issues and Options

3.             The Welsh Government has decided to increase the maximum level of support from the current 90 per cent to 100 per cent. This means that claimants will receive the full amount of support for their council tax liability to which they are eligible, unlike the 2012 Regulations, where all claimants receiving support will have to pay a proportion of their bill. The Government will provide an additional £22 million to local authorities to implement the change.

4.             The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations were laid before the National Assembly on  17 January 2013, for the assembly’s plenary session on the 22 January 2013, with an effective date of 23 January 2013 (subject to approval of the assembly).

5.             The regulations amend the prescribed requirements regulations and the default scheme regulations as follows –

  • increasing the maximum council tax reduction a person can receive from 90% to 100%. 
  • up-rating figures used to calculate non dependant deductions (adjustments made to the maximum amount of council tax reduction a person can receive to take account of adults living in the dwelling home who are not dependants of the applicant)
  • up-rating figures used to set the applicable amount (the amount against which an applicants income is compared to determine the amount of council tax reduction)
  • up-rating the disregard which applies when calculating a persons income.

6.             The up-rated figures have been calculated following the Chancellors Autumn Statement in line with increases in the cost of living and earnings.

7.             The regulations also correct errors in both sets of regulations, now allowing billing authorities to make a payment of council tax reduction, where appropriate, although in general council tax reduction would reduce a claimant’s liability to pay council tax.

8.             The regulations also correct a number of technical errors relating references to the Jobseekers Allowance Regulations 1996 and the Tax Credits (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2012.          

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.             An amount of £222m was identified for Council Tax Reduction in Wales following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.  An amount of £7,946,965 has been allocated to the Vale of Glamorgan Council in the final RSG settlement.  A further £22m has now been provided by the Welsh Government   On the basis of the RSG distribution, the Council’s share of the additional £22m would be £787,537.  This will give a total grant of £8,734,502.

10.        Based on the maximum liability rate of 100% (as set by the regulations), the current case load (11,085) and existing council tax levels (for 2012-13), the cost of council tax support to run the proposed scheme would be £8,704,729.

11.        The Government funding for the scheme for 2013-14 is £8,734,502.  A 1% increase in expenditure on the scheme is equivalent to £87k.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

12.        There are no direct climate change implications, however, the council needs to ensure that measures put in place for council tax reduction are financially sustainable.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        The Council is obliged to make a Council Tax Reduction Scheme under the Prescribed Requirements Regulations.  Although the legislation provides for a default scheme to apply in the absence of the Council making a scheme, the Council is nevertheless under a statutory duty to adopt its own scheme, even if it chooses not to apply any of the discretionary elements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        Future changes to benefit may have implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        The replacement of Council Tax Benefit with the national support scheme will impact upon many of our low income residents including those in vulnerable groups. 

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        The service objective is to administer and pay Council Tax Reduction to eligible claimants

Policy Framework and Budget

17.        The final decision on the adoption of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme is a matter for full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        The Council has undertaken consultation on the adoption of the scheme. 

Background Papers

Ministerial Statement 17 January 2013

 

Contact Officer

Clive Teague

Officers Consulted

Nigel Smith - Revenues and Benefits Manager

Maureen Neave - Benefits manager

Paul Russell - Council Tax Manager

Jodi Winter - Operational Manager Legal Services

Responsible Officer:

Siân Davies – Managing Director

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