Help with Council Tax
Changes to Help with Council Tax in Sefton from April
The Council Tax Benefit scheme has been abolished by the
Government from April this year, and all councils have to replace
it with their own local proposal called the Council Tax Reduction
Scheme. The new scheme started on April 1, 2013.
The Government’s changes have three
- Creating the right incentives to get more people into work by
ensuring that work always pays;
- Protecting the most vulnerable people; and
- Delivering fairness to those claiming benefit and to the
The Government has also outlined three
principles the new scheme should follow:
- There will be no reduction in the amount of help pensioners
currently receive. This means people who have reached the age for
state pension credit will be assessed under a national scheme which
has been decided by the Government. The national scheme is very
similar to the current one.
- The impact on the most vulnerable should be considered when
Councils design their new schemes.
- The new scheme should encourage people to work and in
particular should not act as a disincentive to working.
Within these principles Local Authorities have
been allowed to decide the rules for their own Council Tax
The Government has said that it will not fully
fund the new scheme. In Sefton this meant an overall
reduction in funding of 13% or about £3.7million.
This gap in funding may increase further if
the number of people claiming benefit goes up more than we expect,
for example, due to rises in unemployment. Together with the
need to develop a new scheme that is suitable for Sefton, the
Council is also facing significant budget reductions due mainly to
the austerity measures of the Government. Over the period 2011/2012
to 2012/13 the Council had to make budget savings of £64 million,
and there is a further budget gap of £50 million that the Council
need to find in the next two years.
This budget gap means that the Council has had
to make some very difficult decisions about who gets financial
support and how much. If the Authority had wanted to keep
the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme it would have needed
to fund the extra cost (£3.7m) itself. This would have meant
reductions in other services.
To ensure we met the Government’s
requirements, and have a scheme that suits Sefton, the
Council consulted with residents on a draft scheme between
August and October 2012.
Who will be affected?
The Government has stated that there will be
no changes for pensioner claimants. However, non pensioner
claimants will have to pay more Council Tax.
What the Council are doing to do to reduce any
impact to non pensioner claimants
To lessen the financial impact on non
pensioner claimants, the Council has reduced some of the Council
Tax discounts and exemptions it currently provides for unoccupied
properties. It is estimated that this will find a third of
the £3.7 million needed to fund the new scheme. This has been
consulted upon separately.
Also to support households the Council will
change or remove the amount of reductions which can be made when
other adults live in the household.
From 01.04.13 if you are in receipt of an award under the local
Council Tax Reduction Scheme and are of working
age, you may be entitled to assistance from the council's
Exceptional Hardship Fund.
The Sefton Council Tax
In designing the Scheme the Council has taken
into account the additional revenue that may need to be raised to
partly fund the Government’s funding gap. This is why non
pensioner claimants may have to pay more Council Tax than they have
Our local Council Tax Reduction Scheme is
based on a set of key principles and features which represent a
number of changes to the current Council Tax Benefit scheme for non
Tax Reduction Scheme (482kb)
What could the changes mean for different groups of
The Council has developed a number of case
studies to help you understand what effect the changes might have
on different groups of people.
There are also examples of what
claimants may have to pay if everyone has to pay 20% towards their
Council Tax bill.
Examples of what you may have
Last Updated on 5/20/2013