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Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Reduction Scheme from April 2020

Council Tax Reduction (CTR) was set up when Council Tax Benefit was abolished in 2013. This was part of the welfare reform changes introduced by the government to support individuals and families who need financial help most and encourage people to get back into work.

Since 2013 the local Council Tax Reduction (aka Council Tax Support) scheme has been amended several times.

During 2019 we revised our Council Tax Reduction Scheme (previously known as the Council Tax Support Scheme). The new scheme will be implemented from 1 April 2020, and affects working age applicants only. All other local authorities in Kent have also been asked to undertake a comprehensive review of their scheme so that there is money available to fund the services that are provided to you by all public serving organisations.

A full consultation was carried out between 1 August 2019 and 30 September 2019.

The 8 changes that will be introduced from 1 April 2020 are:-

Change 1 – Introducing an income ‘grid’ scheme for all working age applicants replacing the current means tested approach, which was based on the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme. The intention would be for the income grid to uprate every year in line with the National Living Wage figures;

Change 2 – Limiting the number of dependent children used in the calculation of support to two for all working age applicants;

Change 3 – Changing the claiming process for all applicants who receive Universal Credit (UC), meaning that as soon as the council receive a notification from the Department of Work & Pensions that a resident is in receipt of UC, this will be treated as a claim for CTR;

Change 4 – Removing the current earnings disregards and replacing them with a standard disregard of £25, which means that the first £25 per week a CTR applicant earns will not be included when the council calculate any CTR entitlement;

Change 5 – Disregarding carer’s allowance which is currently taken into account as income, which means that any carer’s allowance an applicant receives will not be included when the Council calculate the applicant's CTR entitlement;

Change 6 – Where the applicant receives universal credit, any amount awarded as a housing element will not be included when calculating the applicant’s income;

Change 7 – Decrease the maximum level of protection for working age applicants from 82.5% to 80%, and from 95% to 90% for working age disabled and carer households;

Change 8 – Provide a further income disregard of £40 where an applicant, their partner or dependent child receives carer’s allowance or a disability benefit such as disability living allowance or personal independence payment, which means that the first £40 per week will not be included when the Council calculate the applicant's CTR entitlement;

From April 2020, the table below shows what level of Council Tax Reduction (or discount) you will receive depending on your family income. The incomes stated in the table below would be your net income after any disregards have been applied such as the £25pw disregard if you are earning. This disregard applies to the household rather than each person that is working. Incomes such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment, and Carers Allowance are disregarded in full.

Income Band 2020/21
Bands Band 1
80% Discount
Band 2
65% Discount
Band 3
50% Discount
Band 4
35% Discount
Band 5
20% Discount
Single £0.00 – £87.20 £87.21 – £130.80 £130.81 –
£174.40
£174.41 –
£218.00
£218.01 –
£261.60
Couple £0.00 – £127.20 £127.21– £170.80 £170.81 –
£214.40
£214.41 –
£258.00
£258.01 –
£301.60
Lone parent with 1 child £0.00 – £142.20 £142.21 – £185.80 £185.81 –
£229.40
£229.41 –
£273.00
£273.01 –
£316.60
Couple with 1 child £0.00 – £182.20 £182.21 –
£225.80
£225.81 –
£269.40
£269.41 –
£313.00
£313.01–
£356.60
Lone parent with 2+ children £0.00 – £197.20 £197.21 –
£240.80
£240.81 –
£284.40
£284.41 –
£328.00
£328.01 –
£371.60
Couple with 2+ children £0.00 – £237.20 £237.21 –
£280.80
£280.81 –
£324.40
£324.41 –
£368.00
£368.01 –
£411.60

 

Income Bands 2020/21
Bands Band 1
90% Discount
Band 2
75% Discount
Band 3
60% Discount
Band 4
45% Discount
Band 5
30% Discount
Disabled/carer claimants £0.00 –
£237.20
£237.21 –
£280.80
£280.81 –
£324.40
£324.41 –
£368.00
£368.01 –
£411.60

If you don’t qualify for Council Tax Reduction but you are suffering financial hardship and are unable to make your Council Tax payments, you may be entitled to some additional help from our Exceptional Circumstances Payment Fund.

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Why are only working age residents affected by the changes to the council tax reduction scheme?

Each year the Council is required to review its scheme before the start of the new financial year. Pensioners who claim council tax reduction will continue to be unaffected because the Government has decided that they must be protected from any reductions in the support they receive.

+ Why are you introducing an income grid system?

The income grid system is designed to make it easier for residents to see what council tax reduction they would be entitled to by plotting themselves on the table according to their income. It is also designed to be less reactive to small changes in income. If a resident’s council tax reduction changes every month due to small fluctuations in earnings, it makes it difficult for residents to budget. Introducing the income grid should help alleviate that.

+ Why are you limiting the support you offer to families to two children?

The government now only offer support through universal credit for two children. There are certain protections for some children, including protection for some children born before April 2017.  To keep the council tax reduction scheme as simple as possible, these protections have not been mirrored in the council tax reduction scheme.

+ You state that there is a £25pw earnings disregard and a further £40pw disregard for disabled residents. What does this mean?

It means that the first £25pw of your earnings are not counted when the council calculates what your weekly income is. For example if you earn £150pw, the council will disregard £25pw and class you as having £125pw in earnings. For disabled residents they will get the first £40pw of any income that they are in receipt of disregarded (as well as £25pw disregarded from their earnings if they are working).

+ I am disabled and in receipt of Personal Independent Payments. Do I get the £40pw disregard from my PIP income?

Disability Living Allowance & Personal Independent Payment continue to be fully disregarded when the council are calculating how much income you have. The £40pw disregard would be taken off any other income you may also be in receipt of.

+ I am in receipt of carers allowance. Will I get any of this income disregarded?

The new council tax reduction scheme will disregard all of your carers allowance as income.

+ What income do I need to be in receipt of to be put into the vulnerable scheme?

Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment, Carers Allowance, receiving the higher rate of Health Allowance within universal credit or the support component of Employment & Support Allowance.

+ I am in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance (income based). Will I receive the same level of support as I do now?

Residents in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance (income based), Income Support or Employment & Support Allowance (income based) will be placed in the most generous income bands and receive an 80% discount.   If that resident is also classed as disabled, they will be placed in the most generous vulnerable scheme and receive a 90% discount. Under the old scheme the maximum level of discount would have been 82.5% & 95% for disabled residents.

+ Why is the housing element of universal credit not counted as income?

The housing element of universal credit is to pay your rent. Under the old council tax reduction scheme, housing benefit was not taken into account as income, so it remains that any element of benefit awarded to pay your rent, whether that be housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit, will not be counted as income.

+ What can I do if my new council tax support entitlement is much less than it was previously?

First of all check your entitlement letters carefully to check your income and circumstances have been calculated correctly. If it has, and you are unable to pay your Council Tax, you can apply for an Exceptional Circumstances Payment. Details can be found on our website.

+ What can I do if I want an explanation of how my council tax reduction has been calculated?

You can write to the council or email benefits@ashford.gov.uk and ask for an explanation of how your council tax reduction has been calculated.

+ What do I do if you have calculated my claim incorrectly?

You can write or email benefits@ashford.gov.uk and giving details of the information that is incorrect, and the council will look at your claim again.

+ What can I do if I disagree with my council tax support calculation?

You can write or email benefits@ashford.gov.uk  giving details of why you disagree with the calculation, and the council will look at your claim again.  If your claim remains unchanged and you still disagree with the decision you can appeal.  You must do this in writing or via e mail and send it directly to the Valuation Tribunal. More details on how to appeal can be found on the website.
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