Croydon Council is set to begin a consultation this month on plans to change its council tax support scheme – making it fairer and easier to administer while ensuring those most in need continue to be protected from having to pay any council tax at all.
The new scheme proposes a new ‘income band’ approach which prioritises support to households with the lowest incomes and would be far simpler for residents to apply for.
Under the changes, eligible pensioners, care leavers under the age of 25 and disabled residents who are unable to work would continue to receive a 100% council tax discount.
Other eligible residents would still receive a discount on their council tax bill, but this may be smaller or larger than before.
Alongside the proposed changes, the council would introduce a one-year hardship fund to support residents who are affected by changes to the Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme discount to adapt to the new system.
The council’s CTS scheme was introduced in 2013, with 90% of funding from central government. Government funding for the CTS has reduced year on year despite costs growing. The council currently invests over £35m a year in the CTS, up by £6m since 2017. The new scheme would ensure that funding is better targeted to support households in greatest need.
At its 18 October meeting the cabinet will be asked to agree a six-week public consultation on the proposed changes, beginning this autumn. Any update to the scheme would begin from April 2022 following full consideration of the consultation results.
“Our present council tax support scheme hasn’t been updated since its introduction in 2013, and while government funding continues to be cut the scheme’s costs are rising every year.
“We want to make the new council tax support scheme fairer and simpler for residents while ensuring it is better focused on households with the lowest incomes.
“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable and so these changes protect the 100% discount for eligible pensioners, young care leavers, and disabled residents who are unable to work. As a result, more than 9,000 households would remain unaffected by these proposed changes.
“We want to hear residents’ views on the proposed changes and will be asking cabinet to agree a full consultation to make sure everyone who is affected can have their say before a final decision is made.”
Councillor Stuart King, deputy leader and cabinet member for Croydon renewal