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Agenda item

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21 - Report of Corporate Director of Resources

Minutes:

The Council considered a report of the Corporate Director of Resources which sought approval for the continuation of the current Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for a further year into 2020/21, with two minor amendments, which would continue the protection afforded to all claimants in line with what their entitlement would have been under the Council Tax Benefit System, as agreed by Cabinet at their meeting on 10 July 2019.  The proposed amendments to the scheme would enhance flexibility in terms of backdated awards (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

In moving the report Councillor A Napier, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance informed Council that the LCTRS proposals were a continuance of the current scheme with some added flexibility to help those most vulnerable.  Durham was now the only Council in the north east to have a scheme that continued with the benefits available under the former Council Tax Benefits Scheme and the Council should be proud that it had supported such an important benefit for people across the County.  People were struggling to make ends meet.  Universal Credit, constant welfare reform and years of austerity had hit people hard.  By continuing the LCTRS the Council would provide much needed support to those who needed it most.

 

In seconding the report Councillor Surtees, Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion informed Council that the LCTRS supported financially vulnerable households in County Durham in line with that available under the former Council Tax Benefits Scheme.

 

Councillor K Thompson, while supportive of the LCTRS, informed Council that when the scheme was introduced the Council Tax Base for his town was reduced by 14%, the equivalent of £¼ million.  This had happened every year for the last seven years and for the last two years no grant had been received.  Councillor Thompson asked why the scheme could not be made available to everybody in County Durham.   Large swathes of the County did not, because they did not have a Town or Parish Council, pay towards this system and there should be a way in which these areas contributed to the LCTRS.

 

The Corporate Director of Resources replied that he would discuss this with Councillor Thompson outside of the meeting.

 

Councillor Napier mentioned that this had been discussed on numerous occasions with the local councils who had agreed with the scheme.  The Council was not obliged to passport any of the grant to Parish or Town Councils.

 

Resolved:

That

 

(a)   the current Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme be continued into 2020/21, which will retain the same level of support to all working age council tax payers on low incomes;

(b)   the scheme be amended to allow for a maximum of 12 months backdating where appropriate and allow applications to be treated as made on the date council tax liability started where applications are received with one month, or longer if reasonable, of the date that the council tax liability was created;

(c)   the Scheme be extended initially for a further year only and be kept under continuous review with a further decision on the scheme to apply in 2021/22 to be considered by Cabinet in spring/summer 2020 and Full Council by 11 March 2021.

Supporting documents:

 

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