Con­sul­ta­tion plan on council tax changes

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY JOHN MCDOUGALL john.mcdougall@trin­i­tymir­ @JMacD1988

ACONSULTATION is in the pipe­line to con­sult Hal­ton res­i­dents on pro­posed changes to the bor­ough’s council tax re­duc­tion scheme.

Hal­ton Bor­ough Council’s cor­po­rate pol­icy and per­for­mance board will view plans to bring the area’s pol­icy in line with the na­tional hous­ing ben­e­fit scheme.

A re­port pro­duced for the meet­ing said since April 2013, a na­tional hous­ing ben­e­fit sys­tem was amended by the Gov­ern­ment to take ac­count of changes to other na­tional wel­fare ben­e­fits such as tax cred­its.

The council is now plan­ning to ‘broadly align’ the area’s council tax scheme with the hous­ing ben­e­fit ar­range­ment to achieve a ‘mea­sure of con­sis­tency’.

The doc­u­ment said for­mer Chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­borne an­nounced in 2015 that from this April, sup­port pro­vided to fam­i­lies through tax cred­its would be lim­ited to two chil­dren.

It means any chil­dren born af­ter April are not el­i­gi­ble for fur­ther sup­port, while the Young Per­son Al­lowance within the hous­ing ben­e­fit scheme was also re­stricted to two young­sters.

The blue­prints out­lined in the re­port would come into ef­fect in 2018-19 and will only im­pact on new council tax pay­ers who re­ceive a re­duc­tion on their bills.

It means ex­ist­ing work­ing age peo­ple cur­rently re­ceiv­ing council tax re­duc­tion and pen­sion­ers would not be af­fected.

The Young Per­son Al­lowance would be re­stricted to two chil­dren for any young­sters born af­ter April 1 next year, while the fam­ily pre­mium would be re­moved from the cal­cu­la­tion from new council tax re­duc­tion claims from the same date.

The re­port said: “The fam­ily pre­mium is part of how we as­sess the needs of any claimant and is in­cluded in their ‘ap­pli­ca­ble amount’ which is com­pared with their in­come.

“The fam­ily pre­mium rate is £17.45 per week, and if we fol­lowed the change then new claimants may lose up to £3.49 council tax re­duc­tion each week.

“The fam­ily pre­mium change will not af­fect those claimants on uni­ver­sal credit, in­come sup­port, in­come re­lated em­ploy­ment and sup­port al­lowance or in­come based job­seeker’s al­lowance.”

The re­port added that if these changes are in­tro­duced, it will re­sult in a ‘small sav­ing’ to the council.

In the last tax year, the lo­cal au­thor­ity paid £9.3m in council tax re­duc­tion to more than 13,000 claimants across Run- ● corn and Widnes, but the re­port said these pro­pos­als will not im­pact on this group of res­i­dents.

The doc­u­ment added: “In the longer term the changes will im­pact upon new claimants and this has the po­ten­tial to af­fect all of the council’s pri­or­i­ties.

“In the longer term these pro­posed changes will mean the council will have to col­lect more council tax, but it is an­tic­i­pated that the amount will not be sig­nif­i­cant.”

The re­port has been rec­om­mended for ap­proval to the ex­ec­u­tive board for a public con­sul­ta­tion to be launched.

The item will be dis­cussed at a meet­ing at Run­corn Town Hall on Tuesday, Septem­ber 5.

Hal­ton Bor­ough Council wants to ‘broadly align’ the area’s council tax re­duc­tion scheme with the na­tional hous­ing ben­e­fit scheme

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