West Northamptonshire Council Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) Consultation 2021-22

Closed 13 Dec 2020

Opened 2 Nov 2020

Feedback updated 1 Apr 2021

We asked

From April 2013, each Local Authority has been required to determine a LCTRS, which replaced the national Council Tax Benefit scheme.

Prior to 1 April 2021, each District and Borough in West Northamptonshire had a different LCTRS that gives different levels of support to working age people. From April 2021, the current schemes will end and a new scheme will need to be agreed.

At the meeting on 27 October 2020, the Shadow Executive agreed six proposals, for consultation purposes only, and approved a consultation period of six weeks.

The consultation ran from Monday 2 November 2020 until midnight on Sunday 13 December 2020 and included an online form open to all residents, stakeholders and people representing organisations.

The proposals that were included in the consultation are shown below:

  • Proposal 1: Level of contribution for working age claimants. The proposal for consultation was to harmonise the minimum contribution to 26.5% of Council Tax liability for working age people
  • Proposal 2: To disregard 100% of War Widows and War Disablement income
  • Proposal 3: Removal of the family premium for new claims
  • Proposal 4: To limit the child allowance to two children when assessing new claims for LCTRS
  • Proposal 5: To apply a minimum value to the income of those people who are self-employed when assessing LCTRS
  • Proposal 6: to harmonise the rates of non-dependant deduction to the prescribed amounts set by Government

You said

The West Northamptonshire Council Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) Consultation 2021-22 received 368 responses of which 309 were fully completed.

159 responses were from Local Council Tax Reduction recipients and 123 from other Council Taxpayers. The remaining responses were from people representing organisations and housing associations or from people who preferred not to say.

Feedback on the six proposals:

1. Level of contribution for working age:

  • 43.28% answered that they strongly or tend to agree with the proposal
  • 43.27% answered that they strongly or tend to disagree with the proposal

2. War Widows and War Disablement:

  • 74.62% answered that they strongly or tend to agree with the proposal
  • 6.04% answered that they strongly or tend to disagree with the proposal

3. Family Premium:

  • 50.47% answered that they strongly or tend to agree with the proposal
  • 15.89% answered that they strongly or tend to disagree with the proposal

4. Child allowance in the calculation of LCTRS:

  • 57.82% answered that they strongly or tend to agree with the proposal
  • 15.62% answered that they strongly or tend to disagree with the proposal

5. Minimum self-employed income:

  • 44.34% answered that they strongly or tend to agree with the proposal
  • 18.87% answered that they strongly or tend to disagree with the proposal

6. Non dependant deductions:

  • 59.05% answered that they strongly or tend to agree with the proposal
  • 7.94% answered that they strongly or tend to disagree with the proposal

For more information about the feedback received, please see the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) Consultation Results report.

We did

A greater level of feedback was received to proposal one, the level of contribution of 26.5% to be paid by working age customers. There was a moderate level of support for this proposal as detailed in the report on the consultation outcome.

Having considered the consultation process and the ongoing economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a 20% scheme was recommended for adoption moving forward.

On Tuesday 26 January 2021, the West Northamptonshire Shadow Executive Committee: 

a) Noted the contents of this report and the previous report received by the Shadow Executive on 5 January 2021;

b) Agreed, under 3.2.2 of the report, the following proposals:

  • Proposal 1 - The minimum level of contribution was set at 20.0%;
  • Proposal 2 -War widows and war disablement income to be disregarded;
  • Proposal 3 - Removal of the family premium for new claims;
  • Proposal 4 - Limit the child allowance to two children when assessing new claims;
  • Proposal 5 - Apply a minimum level of income to those people who are self-employed;
  • Proposal 6 - Harmonise the rates of non-dependant deduction to the prescribed amounts set by Government; and

c) Granted delegated authority to the Section 151 Officer to make amendments as required to the Local Council Tax Reduction Regulations up to and including 31 January 2021 including the income uprating announced by MHCLG. 

For more information about the West Northamptonshire Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-2022, please see the West Northamptonshire Shadow Executive Committee meeting papers of 26 January 2021.

Overview

West Northamptonshire Council Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) Consultation 2021-22 ran from 2 November to midnight on 13 December 2020 on the Future Northants Consultation Hub as part of preparations for the formation of West Northamptonshire Council.

The consultation has been added to the West Northamptonshire Consultation Hub as a matter of record and to provide feedback on how consultation responses assisted decision making.

Background

The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (sometimes known as Council Tax Support) helps people on low income pay their Council Tax.Those of pensioner age are protected by the prescribed regulations set out by central government.

Local Council Tax Reduction Schemes (LCTRS) were introduced from April 2013 when Council Tax Benefit was abolished and replaced by locally agreed schemes.

By law, Councils are required to have a scheme to help people on low incomes to pay their Council Tax. Each year Councils needs to approve a LCTRS for the following 12 months. Where there are changes proposed, it is necessary for a public consultation to take place.

Why do we need to change?

The current two-tier system of local government in Northamptonshire is changing from 1 April 2021.

On 1 April 2021 there will be a new council called West Northamptonshire, replacing the County Council, Northampton Borough Council, Daventry District Council and South Northamptonshire Council.

Currently in Northamptonshire, each District or Borough Council has a different LCTRS that give different levels of Council Tax Support for working age people. The introduction of the new unitary Council means that the current LCTRS will cease and a new scheme will need to be agreed.

From April 2021 we want the new West Northamptonshire Council to have LCTRS, which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents, wherever they live.

What is this consultation about?

The four existing Councils have been working together on draft proposals for a new West Northamptonshire Council. The proposals contained in this consultation apply to people of working age who are on low income and currently reside in Daventry District, Northampton Borough or South Northants District council areas.

We are keen to ensure that all Council Taxpayers are aware of the changes being proposed.

We want the views of our residents and other stakeholders on the scheme that is being proposed for the new council.

Our proposal for Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-2022

We want a fair and equal scheme that provides people with help with their Council Tax payments no matter where they live in West Northants.

To do this we need to bring together the current schemes for each of the district and borough councils into one single scheme for the new West Northamptonshire Council from April 2021.

The challenge we have is to balance the desire to support residents who need financial help with the cost of any scheme to all Council Taxpayers.

How do we propose to do this?

Each of the current councils have a different scheme for working age people.

These are our proposals for how the Local Council Tax Reduction Schemes could be brought into a single scheme from 1 April 2021.    

1. Level of contribution for working age: the current councils have different levels of minimum Council Tax contribution that working age claimants must pay ranging from a minimum of 8.5% to a maximum of 31% of Council Tax.

  • Our proposal: To harmonise the minimum contribution to 26.5% of Council Tax liability for working age people.
  • Rationale: The three councils currently have different levels of minimum Council Tax contribution that working age people must pay ranging from 8.5% to 31%. Our proposal means that going forward working age must pay a minimum of 26.5% of their Council Tax liability and will ensure that the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme is broadly cost neutral to the new authority and, therefore, in overall terms there will be no additional financial burden on the wider taxpayer.
  • It should be noted that this proposal will see greater support given to working age claimants in Northampton Borough and less support given to working age claimants in South Northants and Daventry districts compared to current levels of support.

2. War Widows and War Disablement: the three districts currently disregard 100% of War Pension income under local schemes. This has a beneficial impact on customers and the support they receive.

  • Our proposal: To continue to protect this group and to disregard 100% of the income from War Pensions.
  • Rationale: This means that we can continue to offer support to those residents receiving war pensions at relatively small costs to the taxpayer. 

 3. Family Premium:

  • Our proposal: To remove the award of a family premium when assessing new claims for LCTRS.
  • Rationale: One of the Councils continues to award a Family Premium in the applicable amounts when assessing new claims for LCTRS. The proposal would align the differences in the existing districts and borough’s LCTRS and would create one scheme for West Northamptonshire. The removal of the family premium will provide less support to some new LCTRS claimants but will mean a lower cost for the wider taxpayer. This is also in line with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Regulations.

4. Child allowance in the calculation of LCTRS:

  • Our proposal: To limit the child allowance to two children when assessing new claims for LCTRS in line with DWP Regulations.
  • Rationale: Changes under the wider reform agenda limit the child allowance used in applicable amounts to a maximum of two children. Two of the Councils have already introduced this change. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTRS and would create one scheme for West Northamptonshire which is affordable, consistent and fair to all our residents wherever they live.The restriction of the child allowance to two children will mean less support to some new LCTRS claimants but will reduce costs to the wider taxpayer.

5. Minimum self-employed income:

  • Our proposal: To apply a minimum value to the income of those people who are self-employed when assessing LCTRS.
  • Rationale: Two of the Councils do not currently apply a minimum income to self-employed. The proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTRS and would create one scheme for West Northamptonshire. This means that all LCTRS claimants who have a self-employed income and currently declare no income will have a minimum income figure included in their LCTRS assessment. 

6. Non dependant deductions:

  • Our proposal: To harmonise the rates of non-dependant deduction to the prescribed amounts set by Government.
  • Rationale: where an adult friend or family member resides with a claimant, LCTRS is reduced by a set amount based normally on the prescribed amounts on the weekly income of the non-dependant. One of the Councils currently has slightly higher rates of deduction. This proposal would align the differences in the existing district and borough’s LCTRS and would create one scheme for West Northamptonshire.

Other options considered but discarded:

A number of options have been considered when developing our proposals for the new scheme. For further information, including details of the discounted options and the associated impacts, please see the below:

The consultation

We know that by creating one scheme for the new council, working age claimants of council tax support will be affected.  It is important that we continue to support those who need financial help at the same time as offering an affordable scheme for all our Council Taxpayers.

We would really like your views on our proposals for a new LCTRS. The consultation is open to all residents, stakeholders and people representing organisations

The consultation  will run for six weeks from 2 November to 13 December 2020.

Please tell us your views by completing this consultation questionnaire. Alternatively, you can email or send your comments in by post.

The information provided by you in this survey will be used only for research purposes and it will not be used in a manner that would allow identification of individual responses.

Please contact us if you have any queries about this consultation or if you require it in another format or language. Our contact details are as follows:

Email address: futurenorthants@northamptonshire.gov.uk

Telephone: 01604 837355

What will happen next?

Once the consultation closes, we will collate all the feedback received and present this information to the West Northamptonshire Shadow Executive to consider when making their decision on how to harmonise the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for West Northamptonshire. We will then publish full details of the new scheme in early 2021, with the changes coming into effect in April 2021

Interests

  • Consultations
  • Council tax