The Council Tax Benefit scheme has been abolished by the Government from April 2013, and all councils have had to replace it with their own local Council Tax Reduction Scheme. The new scheme started on April 1, 2013.
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme reduces the amount of Council Tax that a person has to pay where they are on a low income. The scheme applies a means test to determine if any person is entitled to a reduction.
The Government has stated that under the new local Council Tax Reduction Schemes, there can be no changes for pensioner claimants. However, non-pensioner claimants will have to pay more Council Tax.
You are classed as a pensioner if you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit (or if you are a couple and one of you has reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit). Between 6th April 2010 and 5th April 2018, the qualifying age for Pension Credit is increasing gradually from 60 to 65 in line with the state pension age for women. You can get more details about this on the Government's website.
However, if one of you is in receipt of one of the following benefits you will not be classed as being a pensioner, regardless of you or your partner’s actual age, for the purposes of calculating Council Tax Reduction:
- Income Support
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance
If you are not classed as a pensioner, you are classed as being of working age.
2016-17 Council Tax Reduction Scheme
The Council has agreed to continue the 2015-16 scheme, subject to some changes. The main change to the scheme has been to increase the maximum reduction allowable from 80% to 84%, (which in turn reduces the minimum contribution from 20% to 16%). The scheme has also been changed to disregard more of the income received by certain War pensioners.
At present there are around 15,000 working age residents in the borough who receive Council Tax Reduction.