CAB and Council Tax *
From April 2013 Council Tax benefit, exemptions and discounts have been replaced with localised Council tax support schemes to provide financial assistance to Council Tax Charge payers on low incomes. Given these new responsibilities, it is important for Councils to engage locally with equality and community groups in the design of their new schemes. For example:-
Rochford and Rayleigh CAB responded to their District Council’s consultation on proposed Local Council Tax Support scheme. The council had published its EIA, which meant that the bureau were able to raise important issues that the council had missed for people over the age of 18 of working age and those with disabilities who are below pensionable age. The bureau met with the Council’s Head of Revenue and Benefits to discuss the consultation response and address concerns and partnership working with the bureau. Following its analysis of the consultation responses and discussions, the Council agreed to the following:
- not to include child benefit or disability living allowance as income for the purposes of its council tax support scheme
- adding, at the bureau’s suggestion, a council tax support calculator to its website to make it easier for people to see how much they will have to pay under the new scheme.
- to work with the Bureau on an exceptional hardship policy and on the correspondence/publicity to be sent to those likely to be affected by the changes
- a service level agreement with the bureau including £11,000 funding to provide services on income maximisation and budgeting for those affected, working alongside Council staff dealing with the council tax benefit transition.
* Source: Public Sector Equality Duty: Submission to Government Equalities Office Review, Citizen’s Advice [April 2013]