Consultation on our Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme
In April 2013, Council Tax Benefit was replaced with Council Tax Reduction. Council Tax Benefit was fully funded by the government.
Council Tax Reduction is a locally designed scheme and is fully funded by the council.
Each year we review our Council Tax Reduction Scheme for working age applicants. We cannot change how the scheme works for pensioners; this is controlled by the government.
This year we have decided that changes should be made to the scheme due to the full roll out of Universal Credit in Sandwell from November 2018.
The roll out of Universal Credit means that the current link between claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction will no longer exist. We need to simplify the scheme so that it works better for all our customers and reduces unnecessary administration costs. Find out more about Universal Credit.
We are now seeking your views about how the scheme should be changed.
To help you understand more about the changes we are considering, please read the details below.
Sandwell’s current Council Tax Reduction Scheme
In order to continue to support our most vulnerable residents we would like to maintain the following positive features of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
This would mean providing 100% support for applicants in receipt of Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and Income Related Employment and Support Allowance. Sandwell is one of the only remaining councils to continue with this level of support.
Also we would disregard the following incomes when calculating the total income of a household:
- Child Benefit
- Carer’s Allowance
- The support component of Employment and Support Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payments
- War Pensions
- The first £25 of earned income - Sandwell is one of the only councils to award this level of disregard.
The council is consulting on the following changes to its scheme:
- Option 1 - Replace the current means tested approach with a series of income bands for different household sizes.
- Option 2 – Limit the income bands for families to one child or two or more children.
- Option 3 – Introduce deductions for non-dependants who are not working.
- Option 4 - Simplify the claiming process for all applicants who receive Universal Credit.
- Option 5 - Make all new applications and changes in circumstances which change entitlement to Council Tax Reduction effective from the date they happen.
- Option 6 - Reduce the current capital cut-off limit to £3,000.
Are there any alternatives to changing the existing Council Tax Reduction scheme?
We have considered continuing with the current scheme, however it will not work effectively with the Government’s Universal Credit system. The multiple changes in Universal Credit would lead to multiple changes in Council Tax Reduction. This means customers would receive revised bills on a regular basis leading to confusion about what they should pay.