Agenda Item No. 10(d)
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
COUNCIL MEETING: 16 DECEMBER 2015
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 30 NOVEMBER 2015
C2999 COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -
Approval was sought to confirm the re-adoption of the Council Tax Reduction National Scheme for 2016/2017 based on the regulations set out in the report and to reconfirm the Council’s discretions.
As part of the UK Government's Welfare Reform Agenda, with the enactment of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the Council Tax Benefit scheme was abolished with effect from 31 March, 2013. The Local Government Finance Act 2012 enabled the Welsh Government to make regulations to establish a Council Tax Reduction Scheme in Wales. It was recommended that the Council confirmed each year its adoption of the scheme and discretions. There were two sets of regulations governing the scheme.
• The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Schemes) (Wales) Regulations SI 2012/3145, which established a single national framework scheme which would be imposed on any council that failed to adopt its own scheme;
• The Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations SI 2013/3209, which set out the national requirements that each billing authority had to satisfy and also enabled additional areas of local discretion that authorities might wish to implement.
The Welsh Government would amend regulations to uprate the financial figures in line with inflation. These were dependent on the Chancellor's Autumn Statement on the 25 November, 2015. The scheme would need to take account of these and any subsequent Regulations made by the Welsh Government following the adoption of the local scheme.
Welsh local authorities had until 31 January each year to adopt a scheme exercising any of the discretions permitted under the Prescribed Requirements Regulations. This required a decision by full Council. With regard to the areas of discretion under the “Prescribed Requirements” Regulations, the local authorities would only be able to implement discretionary elements that were more generous than the minimum requirements set out in the regulations, and that any flexibility was to be locally funded.
The discretionary elements outlined in the “Prescribed Requirements” regulations were detailed in the report with proposals for their continuation and were summarised as:
• The ability to increase the standard extended reduction period of 4 weeks given to persons after they return to work where they had previously been receiving a council tax reduction that was to end as a result of their return to work;
• Discretion to disregard part or the whole amount of War Disablement Pensions and War Widow’s Pensions when calculating income; and
• The ability to backdate the application of Council Tax Reduction with regard to late claims prior to the standard period of three months before the claim.
This was a matter for Executive and Council decision
Cabinet, having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein
T H A T Cabinet recommended to Council:
(1) T H A T the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations SI 2013/3029 (“the Prescribed Requirements Regulations”) and the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/66 be adopted.
(2) T H A T any amendments to Regulations made by the Welsh Government be reflected in the scheme.
(3) T H A T the national scheme be adopted with the following discretions -
• That the Council should continue to allow Extended Payments up to a maximum of 4 weeks.
• That the Council should continue to disregard War Widow and War Disablement pensions in assessing income for Council Tax Reduction.
• That the Council should continue to allow Backdated Reductions for a period up to 26 weeks.
Reasons for decisions
(1-3) To enable the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to be approved by Council by 31 January, 2016 and be in place for implementation from 1 April, 2016.
[View Cabinet Report]