Agenda item

Local Council Tax Scheme


The Chief Accountant presented the report which outlined proposed changes and options to the Local Council Tax Scheme, which would build upon the existing scheme and align with central Government changes to the Housing Benefit and Universal Credit regulations.  There were six proposed changes to the existing scheme, four of which were likely to reduce the amount of support available to individual claimants under the scheme.  Members were therefore asked to decide whether to support the proposed changes, but were reminded that the final decision would be made at Full Council.


The Chair led by expressing his disappointment at the low number of responses to the consultation, the highest number of which was 30.  He advised that the Committee should not put much weight on the percentage in favour of any changes as the figures were minimal.


He objected to Proposed Change 1, as he felt it would hit the working poor with a loss of £180 support over the course of a year, which for some people was a large amount of money.  He continued to state that he was not against Proposed Change 2.  As for Proposed Change 3, he expressed his discomfort at ending support for self-employed residents as there some people were self-employed as it was the only way to ensure an income.  Finally he objected to Proposed Change 5 as it would penalise larger families which would be unfair, and there would be a risk of two families living side by side receiving different levels of support.


Councillor Duffin echoed his earlier comments surrounding consultations carried out by the Council and insisted that a consultation with 30 respondents was unremarkable, the percentages might as well be discounted by the Committee as even 24/24 was a minimal percentage of the population of the borough.  He expressed disappointment that, in his opinion, Members seemed to be given only two options; hit the working poor or cut Council Services.  The proposed changes would have a negative impact on the working poor and those with children which he did not support.


Councillor Maney interjected that he personally would support all the proposed changes, though he would be cautious about Proposed Change 3, which would target self-employed residents.  He stated that the reality was the Council needed to reduce the welfare bill.  As for Proposed Change 5, he suggested that there was tension in the community around those who made the decision to start a family based upon access to benefits and support; as such he would personally support the change.  The Chief Accountant informed Members that, regarding Proposed Change 3, there were currently 400 claims, 160 of which would qualify for the reduction in support.


Councillor Duffin agreed that Proposed Change 2 seemed sensible, but queried whether there would be safeguards in place for families with triplets for example within Proposed Change 5.


Councillor Liddiard echoed the concerns of the Chair and Councillor Duffin, and insisted that he could not support the proposed changes at all.


The Committee was advised that the issue of triplets had not yet been raised but the question would be asked and Members could receive a response outside of the meeting.  The Director of Finance and IT advised Members that the report had been incredibly challenging to write and any feedback regarding additional information that would support Members would be greatly welcomed, if they could contact him afterwards.


Councillor Watkins also agreed that the consultation had been poorly attained and added that he had sought clarification whilst reading the report, so it would likely be difficult for many residents to fully comprehend too.  He continued to express his support for the changes, especially Proposed Change 2, though he shared Councillor Duffin’s concerns regarding Proposed Change 5 and safeguards for families whereby the decision to have more than 2 children was beyond their control.


The Committee voted in favour of Proposed Change 2, and against Proposed Changes 1, 3 and 5.  Councillor Watkins asked if there could be clarity on the questions raised regarding Proposed Change 5 ahead of Full Council when the decision would be made.




1)    Members specifically considered if they support the changes to the scheme detailed in section 3.4 in respect of proposed changes 1, 2, 3 and 5.  This is in the context of the impact on individual customers and the cost to the Council.


2)    Members approved the proposed change 2 as outlined in section 3.4.


3)    The Committee rejected the proposed changes 1, 3 and 5 as outlined in section 3.4.


4)    Members approved the proposed changes 4 and 6 as outlined in section 3.4 on the basis that these changes are supported by the consultation response.


Supporting documents: