Stafford Borough and Cannock Chase Councils have announced plans to make it easier for people on low wages or benefits to apply for help with their Council Tax. The councils are asking for opinions about their plans to bring in a Banded Discount Scheme from April 2020.
Rob Wolfe, Local Taxation and Benefits Manager for Cannock Chase Council and Stafford Borough Council said: “We do recognise that, like most councils, our Council Tax Reduction Scheme can at times be complicated, and therefore we want to make it as easy as it can be for people to firstly understand how it operates and then to make a claim as appropriate.
“While we are not allowed to change the rules for people of pensionable age, we can nevertheless simplify the process for working aged claimants, hence this announcement.”
The current reduction scheme is similar in process to claiming Housing Benefit (which is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit). However, as part of a new system we are proposing, claimants would in future check a simple table to see what percentage reduction could be taken off their bills.
As part of this, claims would be made online and wherever possible the councils will reduce the amount of supporting information that needs to be sent.
Mr Wolfe said that this wouldn’t mean less support being offered to claimants and that people who need help with their bills would continue to get it, particularly vulnerable claimants.
While the vast majority of claimants will receive the same level of reduction as now, many will actually get an increased reduction, particularly families with children and people employed in low paid jobs. A few people may be worse off but the councils have pledged to look at such cases in detail to make sure that the reductions determined are correct and are affordable.
The consultation exercise about introducing a Banded Discount Scheme is now open and closes on 2 January 2020. Anybody wishing to take part can complete a simple questionnaire at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/LCTR
Press Release 5573