The Impact of Localising Council Tax Benefit
In April 2013, Council Tax Benefit (CTB) was abolished and replaced by Council Tax Support (CTS). In England, 326 local authorities had to devise their own local CTS schemes but with 10% less funding. This summary looks at the impact of that change on benefit claimants.
- CTB reduces the amount of council tax that low-income households have to pay, often to nothing. When a family's CTS is worth less than its CTB, it faces a tax increase.
- In the year beginning April 2013, 18 per cent of councils will retain the 2012/13 levels of CTB, 71 per cent will require all working-age adults to pay at least some council tax, regardless of income. 11 per cent will make some changes but these will not affect all CTB recipients. (Benefit to pensioners cannot be changed under CTS.)
- Some 2.4 million low-income families will pay on average £138 more in council tax in the year 2013/14. However, there is wide variation: the average tax increase ranges from £100 a year or less for 1 million recipients to £300 a year or more for 150,000 recipients.
- 78 per cent of those affected by the changes currently pay no council tax. Councils will have to start collecting, on average, £140 per year from these households (in monthly collections of just under £12). It is unclear how economical it will be for councils to pursue large numbers of low income families for these sums of money.
- 2 million working-age CTB claimants are in poverty, and a further half million just above it. An increase in council tax would leave them with even less disposable income.
- The replacement of CTB with CTS marks a historic move from a nationally devised system to one consisting of 326 different local schemes in England. It will be a curious system when a jobseeker with a state-provided income of £71.70 per week is considered to have enough money to pay some council tax in some parts of the country, but too poor to pay in others.
About this report
This summary report was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and written by Sabrina Bushe, Peter Kenway and Hannah Aldridge. The views are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the JRF. All the information gathered for this research and further analysis can be viewed online for free at counciltaxsupport.