Changes to council tax support - give us your views

We are asking residents for their views on council tax support.

Background

Council tax support is provided to around 7,000 households in Cheltenham at an annual cost of just over £6.6m. This includes working and pension age claimants. Approximately 68% of these households are of working age. The cost of the council tax support scheme is met by this council and the precepting authorities who are the county council and the police. The share of the cost is the same as the share of the council tax.

Prior to April 2013, council tax payers on a low income could apply for council tax benefit to help pay their council tax. Under this national scheme and in accordance with the regulations, council tax payers could receive benefit of up to 100% of their council tax liability. The council then received full funding from the government for all council tax benefit awards made.

From April 2013, councils became responsible for designing their own local council tax support (CTS) scheme for working age people only. The government also reduced the funding given to councils to pay for the scheme. Cheltenham Borough Council introduced its local council tax support scheme in April 2013 which more or less replicated the council tax benefit scheme. Council tax support for pensioners was not localised and continues to be provided for by a national scheme.

The council no longer received any direct funding from government towards the cost of the council tax support scheme

From 1 April 2019, Cheltenham Borough Council introduced a revised local council tax support scheme which increased the contribution that some people receiving help must make towards their council tax bills. Some further changes were made to the scheme from 1 April 2020 and the council is now in the position of determining its local council tax support scheme with effect from 1 April 2021. The council wants to hear your views regarding the proposals for the 2021-22 scheme.

What is local council tax support?

Council tax support is a council tax discount and if awarded it will reduce a person’s council tax payments. Any person who is liable for council tax can apply. The level of discount awarded is currently based on the income and capital the claimant and partner has, whether they have dependent children or other adults living in the household, referred to as non-dependants. Other factors such as certain expenses to assist with childcare payments, disabilities and whether a person falls into a group considered to need more support is also taken into consideration.

All, some, or none of these factors can be taken into consideration when devising a council tax support scheme.

Why are we consulting?

Each year the council has to decide whether to make changes to the administration of its council tax support scheme for working age applicants in the borough. This year we are consulting on minor changes that could be made to the scheme from 1 April 2021 that will ensure that our most vulnerable residents continue to receive the vital support required.

Who are we consulting?

The consultation in respect of changes to the council tax support scheme for 2021-20 is open to everyone who lives in Cheltenham, regardless of whether they currently claim benefits and/or council tax support, work or study in the town and want to have their views heard. The Council is keen to hear the views of a cross section of Cheltenham residents.

When and how are we consulting?

The consultation will run for a period of six weeks, commencing on Wednesday 7 October and ending on Friday 6 November 2020. 

We encourage people to read the consultation information below and then complete our online survey as this will capture answers to the key questions we are asking.

However if you are unable to complete the online survey or would like to convey your comments to us please either:

  • Email your views to ctsconsultation@cheltenham.gov.uk, or
  • Request a paper copy of the survey and then post back to us, or
  • Write to us at the address below
    • Revenues and Benefits Service, Cheltenham Borough Council, Municipal Offices, Promenade, Cheltenham. GL50 9SA

Consultation information

Cheltenham Borough Council currently provides 100% support to many customers within the scheme. Due to COVID-19 the government provided most of these customers with additional income of £20 per week. This additional income, if taken into account, would result in many customers receiving less support.

It is not clear at this stage whether the government will continue with this additional £20 per week payment. The council is working on the basis that the £20 per week will continue and to ensure that customers can continue to receive 100% support, the income bands have been adjusted accordingly.

The council’s aim is to continue to protect the most vulnerable customers who are on low incomes. The proposed income bands are:

  • Band 1 - Maximum percentage entitlement: 100%
    • Income£
      • Single person - 000.00 to 098
      • Couple - 000.00 to 140
      • Lone parent with children - 000.00 to 175
      • Couple with children - 000.00 to 230
  • Band 2 - Maximum percentage entitlement: 80%
    • Income£
      • Single person - 098.01 to 125
      • Couple - 140.01 to 175
      • Lone parent with children - 175.01 to 200
      • Couple with children - 230.01 to 280
  • Band 3 - Maximum percentage entitlement: 60%
    • Income£
      • Single person - 125.01 to 150
      • Couple - 175.01 to 230
      • Lone parent with children - 200.01 to 250
      • Couple with children - 280.01 to 330
  • Band 4 - Maximum percentage entitlement: 40%
    • Income£
      • Single person - 150.01 to 175
      • Couple - 230.01 to 280
      • Lone parent with children - 250.01 to 305
      • Couple with children - 330.01 to 380
  • Band 5 - Maximum percentage entitlement: 20%
    • Income£
      • Single person - 175.01 to 200
      • Couple - 280.01 to 330
      • Lone parent with children - 305.01 to 355
      • Couple with children - 380.01 to 435

It may be necessary to apply a further small inflationary increase to these income band figures but this will only be necessary if the government awards an additional increase.

Go to the online survey

What happens after the consultation period has ended?

The information collected from this consultation will be used by the council to assist in making its decision on the changes to the council tax support scheme from 1 April 2021.

The results from the consultation will be published later this year on our website.

Work will take place to update the council tax support scheme which will be considered as a full council meeting in December 2020. The scheme will then be reflected as a discount on council tax bills for 2021-22.