Localising Council Tax Support: A Briefing Note on Local Authorities' Plans
This paper summarises our assessment of the proposed Council Tax Support schemes to replace Council Tax Benefit that local councils were consulting on in September 2012.
As the most widely-claimed means-tested benefit, the replacement of council tax benefit with new, locally-designed schemes of council tax support is extremely important. In April 2013, English local authorities will begin their own schemes of ‘council tax support’ (CTS) to replace the existing national scheme of council tax benefit (CTB). The new schemes will receive 10% less funding from central Government than CTB. So, either CTS provides less support than CTB or savings will have to be made elsewhere.
This briefing paper summarises the main features of the prospective CTS schemes that councils had (at the time of writing) put out for consultation. It is intended to help local authorities and other interested organisations understand what is likely to happen on the ground in April.
The information presented here is based on a survey of 64 proposals out of the total of 169 that have been published by early September. This is equivalent to about one sixth of all the councils in England.
We have grouped the proposals under nine headings. For each proposal, the graph shows how many of the sampled councils are proposing that particular option. Most councils are proposing to implement a mixture of several options, not just one.
The graph shows how many councils have included each proposal in their consultations. More information on what each proposal involved and its implications are contained within the report.
While all of the options are important, by far the most significant is the first, under which all working-age adults, however low their income, will have to pay a minimum amount of council tax, typically 20% of what would be the normal amount for their home. This represents the return of one of the principles of the community charge or poll tax which was the basis for local taxation in England for just three years from 1990 to 1992.