Changes to support scheme will see big increases in Council Tax for some

Slough’s cabinet voted this week to adopt its own Council Tax Support Scheme which will see big rises for some residents in an attempt to offset the loss of £1.1m of funds from central government.

The Government is abolishing the current national council tax benefit scheme for people on a low or no income, saving £500m nationally. In its place the council is required to design a local support scheme.

Those residents who previously claimed the single occupancy discount or own properties undergoing repair, and landlords with empty properties will be hit hard.  The council intends to raise £300,000 through taking advantage of the Government’s relaxation of rules governing discounts and exemptions for empty properties and second homes.

However, the extension of the tax base to residents who do not currently contribute to Council Tax will raise the bulk of the new burden. In brief this will be:

80% discount – reduced from 100% 500,000
Restricting discounts to the amount of Council Tax levied on a Band C property 100,000
Adjusting income assessments to include other household income (for example including Child Benefit) 250,000
Removing Second Adult Rebate from discount calculations 10,000

Slough acknowledges that bringing people into Council Tax liability who have never paid before will create a collection risk but still expects to maintain a collection rate of 98% in 2013.  A “mitigation strategy” has been developed to ensure those residents are aware of the implications and are supported to access their maximum benefit entitlement.

For empty properties and second homes the changes from April 2013 will be:

Discount/exemption Current regulation Change from April 2013
Discount for properties not occupied as a main home. 10% discount No discount
Exemption for unoccupied and unfurnished properties. 6 months exemption: Class C exemption No discount
Exemption on empty properties undergoing repair or major structural alteration. 12 months exemption: Class A exemption No discount
Exemption on properties having been re-possessed by the mortgagee. These properties are exempt: Class L exemption No discount
Discount on long term empty properties and charging an ’empty homes premium’ of 50% on properties left empty for longer than two years. 10% discount To charge a premium of 50%, making the total liability 150% after two years.
Slough invited views on the changes to the scheme earlier in the year and the survey results can be viewed here.  No details have been provided on the number of submissions made.

View the full details of the Cabinet decision here.


Change in support scheme could see a rise in council tax

From the Slough Express:

Householders in Slough could see an increase in the amount of council tax they pay after the scrapping of Council Tax Benefits by central Government.

Local authorities were offered the choice of developing their own Council Tax Support Scheme or adopt the Government’s default scheme.

Slough Borough Council announced at a cabinet meeting on Monday that they would be developing their own scheme, based on a consultation in September, October and November.

Mark Taylor, interim assistant director of finance, said:

“The consultation showed that people wanted all Slough residents to make a contribution and that the most vulnerable members of the community should be supported by the new scheme.”

New council tax bases will change as a result of the support scheme, with new bases announced for Britwell at 1,801.5, for Colnbrook with Poyle at 1,996.4, Wexham at 1,509.2, and Slough Town at 37,042.9, which makes a total of 42,320.

The scheme was agreed to be adopted by the cabinet and will come into effect from March 31, 2013.

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