Consultation plan on council tax changes
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