Council tax and council tax reduction consultation

Open from 5 September to 23 November 2018

Introduction and Background

Council Tax and Council Tax Reduction Scheme are administered by Cambridge City Council based on regulations that we have some control over.

We would like your views regarding three potential changes to the Council Tax discount schemes and the Council Tax Reduction scheme that are being considered. More details of the proposals and what the impact is are below.

Please complete the survey below by 23 November 2018.

Consultation information

1. Council Tax charges on empty properties

The Government is looking to increase the amount of Council Tax that can be charged on properties that have been empty for more than two years. Currently, Cambridge City Council charges a 50% additional premium of Council Tax on 48 properties that have been empty for more than two years (150% Council Tax charge).

The proposals are to increase this to a 100% additional premium being charged (Council Tax will be doubled) from April 2019 for properties empty for more than two years.

The Government has also proposed an amendment which would enable Councils to increase the premium for properties empty more than 5 years and empty for more than 10 years.

From April 2020, properties empty for more than 5 years may be charged a premium of 200% (Council Tax will be tripled).

From April 2021, properties empty for more than 10 years may be charged a premium of 300% (Council Tax will be quadrupled).

Details of the Government proposals can be found here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0255/18255.1-2.html

Safeguards are being proposed to protect vulnerable charge payers. We are not able to say at the moment how much additional income these proposals will bring to Cambridge City Council, as we do not know if the new safeguards being introduced will apply to the current or any future properties affected.

This supports the City Council bringing empty properties back in to use.

2. Add Care Leavers to 'vulnerable groups' category

Under the current Council Tax Reduction scheme for working-age customers, certain groups of customers are protected from any possible future reduction in benefit and currently includes families with dependent children (up to age 20) and households where someone is disabled.

This proposal is to add Care Leavers (up to their 25th birthday), to this vulnerable groups category.

Care Leavers are young people who have been looked after by the local authority and leave care after they reach the age of 18.

This proposal will ensure that the starting point for the calculation of means tested Council Tax Reduction will be based on the full 100% Council Tax Liability. By including care leaver in the vulnerable group category we will be protecting care leavers from any future change in our scheme, should we reduce the starting point of calculation of council tax reduction to anything less than 100%.

3. With regards to the Local Council Tax Reduction scheme, ignore income changes of up to £10 per week under Universal Credit

Universal Credit “full service” is to be introduced in Cambridge from October 2018. Universal Credit replaces six other benefits (including Housing Benefit) and operates differently. It is based on a monthly assessment period and this can mean small changes in entitlement each month.

To provide certainty to customers on how much Council Tax they need to pay and to ease the administration of the Council Tax Reduction scheme, it is proposed to ignore income changes of up to £10.00 per week. The maximum impact will be that up to £2.00 per week increase or decrease in entitlement to Council Tax Reduction that will be ignored.

Where household income goes down by more than £10.00 per week, entitlement to Council Tax Reduction will increase.

Where household income increases by more than £10.00 per week, entitlement to Council Tax Reduction will reduce.

Complete our survey to give your opinions on the proposals

Next steps

This consultation will form part of a report to Strategy and Resources Committee on 21 January, 2019.

Contact

If you have any questions about this consultation, contact Revenues and Benefits at rbsystem@cambridge.gov.uk.

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