Shropshire Council’s Cabinet is to consider a number of proposed changes to the council’s Council Tax Support Scheme at its meeting next week (Wednesday 18 October 2017).
Introduced in 2013, the scheme is controlled locally to help people on low incomes cut the cost of the amount they pay in council tax.
Shropshire Council is one of only a few councils across the country which still provides 100 per cent protection through this scheme. After careful consideration, and in light of the financial challenges the council is facing, the report proposes to ask more people to contribute towards the cost of delivering local services.
The report sets out four options, these include:
- Option one – do nothing and retain the existing Council Tax Support Scheme. For the 2017-18 financial year the council provides more than £7 million council tax support to working age claimants. This option would provide no saving.
- Option two – make changes to the existing scheme to align with housing benefit and apply a minimum award of £1.50 a week. This option would save the council £206,000.
- Option three – make changes to the existing scheme to align with housing benefit and introduce a minimum award of £1.50 per week and apply 10 per cent minimum payment in council tax support. This option would save the council £694,000.
- Option four – make changes to the existing scheme to align with housing benefit and introduce a minimum award of £1.50 per week and apply a 20 per cent minimum payment in council tax support. This option would save the council £1,190,000.
The report also proposes that the following people would be exempt from the proposed 20 per cent minimum payment as outlined in option four:
- Claimants in receipt of the severe disability premium.
- Claimants in receipt of the support component of Employment and Support Allowance. The support component of Employment and Support Allowance is for people with a ‘limited capacity for work’.
- Claimants in receipt of war pension exemption.
Councillors are being asked to agree upon option four as the preferred option, with the associated exemptions.
If agreed, the preferred option will be subject to a public consultation and be brought to full Council on 14 December 2017 for final approval, before potentially coming into effect from April 2018.
David Minnery, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for finance, said:
“Whilst we will ensure that the most vulnerable are protected, asking more people to contribute towards the cost of delivering local services is not an easy one to propose.
“We continue to face unprecedented cuts in central government funding, and ever-increasing pressure to maximise our own resources to pay for the delivery of essential services.
“These proposals have been carefully considered to ensure that we can continue to provide the things that matter to local people.
“It’s vital that we get things right, so the preferred option will also be considered by the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee as part the consultation.”
To read the report and appendices click here.