North Northamptonshire Council Local Council Tax Support Scheme (LCTSS) Consultation 2021-22

Closed 30 Nov 2020

Opened 5 Oct 2020

Overview

Background

The Local Council Tax Support Scheme (also known as Council Tax Reduction) is to help people on low income to pay their Council Tax. Local Council Tax Support Schemes (LCTSS) were introduced from April 2013 when Council Tax Benefit was abolished and replaced by locally agreed schemes. Those of pensionable age are protected by the prescribed regulations set out by central government.

By law, Councils are required to have a scheme to help people on low incomes to pay their council tax. Each year Councils needs to approve a Local Council Tax Support Scheme for the following 12 months. Where there are changes proposed, it is necessary for a public consultation to take place.

Why do we need to change?

The current two-tier system of local government in Northamptonshire is changing from 1st April 2021.

On 1st April 2021 there will be a new council for North Northamptonshire, replacing Northamptonshire County Council, Corby Borough Council, East Northamptonshire Council, Kettering Borough Council and the Borough Council or Wellingborough.

Currently in North Northamptonshire, each council has a different LCTSS that give different levels of Council Tax support for working age people. The introduction of the new unitary Council means that the current LCTSS will effectively cease and a new scheme will need to be agreed.

From April 2021 we want the new unitary North Northamptonshire Council to have one scheme which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live, not only those that receive support but also those that depend on wider services.

What is this consultation about?

The five existing Councils have been working together on draft proposals for a Local Council Tax Support Scheme for the new North Northamptonshire Council. The proposals contained in this consultation apply to people of working age who are on low income.

We want to ensure that all Council Tax payers are aware of the changes being proposed.

We want the views of our residents and other stakeholders on the scheme that is being proposed for the new council.

Our proposal for North Northamptonshire Council Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2021-2022

We want a fair and equal scheme that provides people with help with their Council Tax payments no matter where they live in North Northamptonshire.

To do this we need to bring together the current schemes for each of the councils into one single scheme for the new North Northamptonshire Council from April 2021.

The challenge we have is to balance the desire to support residents who need financial help with the cost of any scheme to all Council Tax payers.

How do we propose to do this?

These are our proposals for how the Local Council Tax Support Schemes (LTCSS) could be harmonised from 1st April 2021.    

1. Level of contribution for working age:

  • Our proposal: to harmonise the minimum Council Tax contribution to 25% of Council Tax liability for working age people.
  • Rationale: The four councils currently have different levels of minimum Council Tax contribution that working age people have to pay ranging from 8.5% to 45%. Our proposal means that a maximum discount of 75% can be awarded and will ensure that the Local Council Tax Support Scheme is broadly cost neutral to the new authority.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

2. Family Premium:

  • Our proposal: to remove the award of a family premium when assessing entitlement to LCTSS. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Rationale: One of the councils continues to award a family premium in the applicable amounts when assessing new claims for LCTSS. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTSS and would create one scheme for North Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

3. Limit the child allowance in the calculation of LCTSS to a maximum of two children:

  • Our proposal: to limit the child allowance to two children. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
  • Rationale: Changes under the wider reform agenda limit the child allowance used in applicable amounts to a maximum of two children. Two of the Councils did not apply this to their LCTSS. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTSS and would create one scheme for North Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

4. Backdating:

  • Our proposal: to restrict backdating to 1 calendar month. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Rationale: one of the councils still awards backdated LCTSS for a period of up to 6 calendar months. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTSS and would create one scheme for North Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

5. Temporary absence outside the UK:

  • Our proposal: to restrict temporary absence outside of the UK to 4 weeks. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Rationale: one of the councils does not limit temporary absence outside of the UK to 4 weeks. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTSS and would create one scheme for North Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

6. To remove entitlement to the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) where a person is paid Universal Credit (Carer’s Element) to look after them:

  • Our proposal: to remove entitlement to the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) where a person is paid Universal Credit (Carer’s Element) to look after them. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Rationale: one of the councils does not remove entitlement to the SDP. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTSS and would create one scheme for North Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

7. To remove the Work Related Activity Component (WRAC) for new Employment and Support Allowance claimants:

  • Our proposal: to remove the WRAC for new Employment and Support Allowance claimants. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Rationale: One of the councils does not remove the WRAC for new Employment and Support Allowance claimants. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTSS and would create one scheme for North Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.
  • Click here for further information about this proposal.

A number of options have been considered when developing our proposals for the new scheme. For further information, including details of the discounted options and the associated impacts, please see the below:

The consultation

We know that by creating one scheme for the new unitary authority some people will be affected. It is important that North Northamptonshire Council continues to support those who need financial help to pay their Council Tax, but at the same time the support that is offered is an affordable scheme for all our Council Tax payers.

We would really like your views on our proposals for a new LCTSS. The consultation is open to all residents, stakeholders and people representing organisations.

The consultation will run for 8 weeks from 5th October 2020 to 30th November 2020.

Please tell us your views by completing this questionnaire. Alternatively, you can email or send your comments in by post using the contact details below.

The information provided by you in this survey will be used only for research purposes and it will not be used in a manner that would allow identification of individual responses. We will not be asking for you name or contact details. Any personal information supplied within your comments that could identify you will not be published.

Please contact us if you have any queries about this consultation or require it in another format or another language. Our contact details are as follows:

Email address: futurenorthants@northamptonshire.gov.uk 

Telephone: 01832 742330

What will happen next?

Once the consultation closes, we will collate all the feedback received and present this information for the North Northamptonshire Shadow Executive to consider when making their decision on how to harmonise the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for North Northamptonshire. We expect this to happen on the 28 January 2021. We will then publish full details of the up-dated scheme in early 2021, with the changes coming into effect in April 2021.