NPI submission to CLG Local Council Tax Support Review
On 2 December 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government announced the launch of the mandatory three-year review of the localisation of Council Tax Support, following its replacement of Council Tax Benefit in April 2013.
Since autumn 2012, we have conducted four research projects on the introduction and development of CTS by English local authorities, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). The first three projects used Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to analyse all local schemes in England, and modelled local variations in the effect on claimants. This extensive data collection and analysis is the basis of the most comprehensive public record of CTS schemes, available on www.counciltaxreduction.org. This was the basis for further research into the effect of CTS schemes on arrears, collection rates, and court and administration costs in 2013/14. The final project drew on qualitative interviews with 15 local authority revenue and benefits officers in early 2015 to analyse how and why decisions were taken on scheme design and implementation, to highlight examples of best practice, and review how CTS interacts with Universal Credit (UC).
Our submission briefly summarises the findings from our JRF-funded research relevant to the review, on the interaction with UC, elements of best practice, and the impact on local residents. It then presents fresh analysis of council tax arrears and local CTS schemes for 2014/15. Finally, it addresses each of the review’s four themes in question, as specified in the Terms of Reference – fairness, efficiency, effectiveness, transparency.