Council Tax Benefit has changed
Council Tax Benefit has been replaced by a new local reduction scheme from 1 April 2013.
Until 1 April 2013, Council Tax Benefit was a national welfare benefit, paid to help meet the cost of your Council Tax. Anyone who paid Council Tax for their home could claim Council Tax Benefit by submitting an application form to the Council.
New Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme has replaced Council Tax Benefit
West Berkshire Council were required to establish a new Council Tax Reduction scheme (also known as Council Tax Support) by April 2013. This is a result of the Government's Welfare Reform Act which has abolished Council Tax Benefit and replaced it with a new scheme of Localised Council Tax Reduction.
Councils have been advised that local schemes should support Government objectives for:
· creating the right incentives to get more people into work by ensuring that work always pays,
· protecting the most vulnerable people, and
· delivering fairness to those claiming benefit and to the taxpayer.
The Government has said that it wishes to protect pensioners in the scheme. For all other recipients, there is a requirement to agree local eligibility criteria.
Under the Council Tax Benefit scheme, the Council were reimbursed 100% for the amount of Council Tax Benefit it paid to local claimants.
However, under the new system it is given a specific sum by the Government to make reductions to Council Tax. In West Berkshire, the Government indicated that funding will reduce by around 14% of the amount paid under Council Tax Benefit. This meant that West Berkshire Council were not able to fund the scheme at its previous levels.
Such a reduction in funding meant that we had to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial support and how much in these challenging times.
Therefore, almost everyone treated as being of working age for benefit purposes, entitled to Council Tax Benefit, could be potentially affected.
A quick guide to the changes we proposed during our consultation is available in the downloads section in the right hand panel of this page or by viewing Quick Guide to the draft Council Tax Reduction scheme [949kb]. Further information relating to the proposals is also available in the downloads section, or by viewing our Draft Council Tax Reduction Scheme- Information Sheet [104kb].
Consultation, on the type of Council Tax Reduction scheme which operates in West Berkshire from 1 April 2013, closed on 28 September 2012.
Following this consultation, the Council agreed a new Council Tax Reduction scheme which will operate from 1 April 2013. The new scheme is based upon the national default Council Tax Reduction scheme (which, in turn, preserves most features of the former national Council Tax Benefit scheme), but with one significant difference: Council Tax Reduction for working age customers will only be deducted from 91.5% of their liability.
This means that working age customers will be liable to pay a minimum 8.5% of their Council Tax liability for the property in which they reside, before any reduction is taken from their Council Tax charge.
Full details of payment methods available to you will be included upon your 2013/14 Council Tax demand.
Pension age and protected claimants (such as those receiving a disability related benefit or war pension) will be unaffected by these changes and will continue to receive the same level of support.
The full Council Tax Reduction scheme operating in West Berkshire from 1 April 2013, can be viewed at www.westberks.gov.uk/counciltaxreduction