Ashford Borough Council are going to consult residents on proposed changes to their Council Tax Support Scheme.
The Council says that supporting the most vulnerable residents while encouraging those residents of working-age to return to work if they are able to do so – are the underlying principles behind the localised council tax support scheme in Ashford.
Ashford Borough Council was required to introduce a localised council tax support scheme in 2013 as part of the government’s wider welfare reforms. It has seen some people contribute towards their council tax bills for the first time.
After four years of very minimal change to its scheme, the proposals for the financial year beginning on 1st April 2017 are more wide-ranging and cabinet members last night approved a period of formal consultation from 6th June – 29th August to ask existing claimants and other interested stakeholders for their views on the revised scheme.
With public-serving organisations facing shortfalls in funding from central government, Ashford Borough Council has been asked by the major precepting authorities (such as Kent County Council and Kent Police) to consider revising the scheme so that the money available to fund the services provided by them, as well as those provided by the council itself, stretches further.
The consultation will be clear about what can and cannot be influenced. Some elements of the proposed scheme have already been decided. For example, pensioners remain unaffected by the changes and will continue to receive similar support to that which they currently do. The council has also already decided that as disabled claimants of council tax support will find returning to work more challenging, Ashford will proudly continue to provide additional support (5%) to those disabled claimants.
However, residents of working-age will be asked to contribute more towards their council tax. The considerations being put forward for consultation are:
- Previously, the maximum level that anyone in receipt of council tax support was asked to pay towards their council tax was up to 10% – under the revised scheme they will be asked to pay between 10% and 20%
- Those claimants who live in a property that is classified for council tax as being in Bands E, F, G or H will only receive the same support as claimants who are living in a Band D property
- Those claimants who state they are self-employed will be presumed to be earning the statutory national living wage (NLW) – so their minimum income will be deemed to be the NLW x 35 hours (for full-time self-employed claimants) and the NLW x16 hours (for part-time self-employed claimants)
- Previously, claimants with savings up to £16,000 were eligible for council tax support – the revised scheme states that the maximum amount of savings claimants can have is £6,000
- Those claimants with adult sons/daughters living at home will receive a deduction of £10 per week per non-dependent child
These are the aspects of the consultation that are still being considered and questions about each of these elements will be featured on the consultation questionnaire when it is issued. Affected residents, as well as a sample of other residents selected at random, will be written to directly and anyone interested in commenting on the consultation can visit www.ashford.gov.uk/counciltaxsupport from 6th June and follow the links to complete the questionnaire, hard copies of which will be available.
Ashford Borough Council 16 May 2016