Agenda Item No. 10(a)
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
COUNCIL MEETING: 14 DECEMBER 2016
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 28 NOVEMBER 2016
C3371 COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES) -
Approval was sought to confirm the re-adoption of the Council Tax Reduction National Scheme for 2017/2018 based on the following regulations 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. From 1 April, 2013 a new scheme called Council Tax Reduction was introduced. The Welsh Government’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme ended on the 31 March, 2014.
For 2014/15 and subsequent years the Welsh Government made new regulations which replicated the existing 2013/14 regulations on which the national Council Tax Reduction Scheme was based. 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.
Welsh local authorities had until 31st 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. If the authorities failed to adopt a Council Tax Reduction Scheme by that date, the default scheme would apply. 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:
• 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 recommend 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, 2017 and be in place for implementation from 1 April, 2017.