Council tax reduction scheme (CTRS)
Council Tax Benefit was abolished on 31 March 2013 and replaced by a local scheme called the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS). For the financial year 2013-14, the council tried to replicate the old Council Tax Benefit scheme as closely as possible. However, from April 2014, changes were made and below is a summary of these changes.
Maximum council tax reduction
The maximum amount of reduction you will receive will be set at 91.5 per cent of the council tax you are charged. This means that if your council tax is £1,000 per year and you previously received full help with your council tax, you will have to pay £85.00 spread over the year. There will be exceptions to this change. If you are one of the following, your Council Tax Reduction will still be calculated on 100 per cent of the council tax you are charged:
• You, or your partner are in receipt of war disability pension
• You, or your partner are in receipt of a war widows or war widower’s pension
• You, or your partner, are in receipt of an Armed Forces Independence Payment
• You are your partner are in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance
• If in the calculation of your reduction you have a disability premium, severe disability premium, enhanced disability premium or a disabled child premium in your applicable amount (If you are not sure you are entitled to these premiums, please contact the Council)
• You receive a disabled band reduction on your council tax.
Band E Restriction
If you live in a band F, G or H property, the amount of reduction you will receive will be restricted to an amount equivalent to a band E property. For example, if you live in a band G property and your council tax is £2,521.40 per annum and a band E property is £1849.03 per annum, your reduction will be calculated on 91.5 per cent of the band E amount of £1849.03.
If you fall in one of the exceptions listed under “Maximum council tax reduction” your reduction will be calculated on the actual band your property is in, not on a band E amount.
Removal of second adult reduction
If you were previously in receipt of a second adult reduction because you have an adult living with you who is on a low income and doesn’t pay you rent, this will be removed from 1 April 2014.
If you received a second adult reduction due to the “better buy” rule (where the amount of second adult reduction was higher than any Council Tax Reduction you were entitled to) your underlying entitlement to Council Tax Reduction will be calculated automatically.
Extended reductions are awards of reduction for people who have been unemployed and in receipt of certain benefits for 26 weeks or more. When the person returns to work, the amount of the reduction is the amount in payment before the person returned to work, whatever income that person may have when they return to work. Previously, this extended reduction was awarded for four weeks. From April 2014, the length of the award will be 13 weeks.
What the changes may mean to you
If you are affected by the changes, you may have to pay council tax from April for the first time.
Council tax is usually collected over 10 months (April – January), although you can make payments over 12 months if you prefer as long as this is set up in April. There are a number of ways to pay the simplest is by direct debit.
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme is no longer a benefit, but is a discount on your Council Tax. There will be some differences between Council Tax Benefit and the new Council Tax Reduction Scheme. These include:-
• Changes in your circumstances must be reported within 21 days, rather than 1 calendar month.
• Appeals will not be to the First-tier Tribunal Service, but to the Valuation Tribunal for England. This may result in an appeal being heard by both Tribunals on the same dispute if you are in receipt of Housing Benefit along with a Council Tax Reduction.
• If you apply for Housing Benefit via the Department for Work and Pensions, it will not be regarded as a claim for a Council tax Reduction. As it will contain most of the information the council needs to calculate a Council Tax Reduction, you will be asked to sign a 1 page form from the council stating you wish to claim a Council Tax Reduction also.
If you require further assistance, please contact the Benefits section. To apply for council tax reduction you will need to complete an application form.
Discretionary Hardship Award (DHA)
For those affected by the changes who have difficulty in paying their Council Tax, the council has set up a discretionary scheme to help relieve any hardship. There are some restrictions on payments of discretionary hardship awards:
• The scheme is purely discretionary – there is no statutory right to a payment
• Applications will only be considered from council tax payers who were resident at a property in the Vale area as at 31 March 2014 (i.e. applications from new residents in the Vale from 1 April 2014 onwards will not be considered)
• Only applications from people who have been affected by the changes to the CTRS will be accepted
• The amount that can be paid out in any financial year is cash limited
• DHAs can only meet the maximum Council Tax liability.
The full scheme criteria can be found in the document above and to the right, along with an application form.
Last reviewed: 16 - 03 - 2016