CAMBRIDGE City Council is holding a consultation on proposals to simplify its Council Tax Reduction Scheme following the introduction of Universal Credit.
The scheme provides a reduction on Council Tax bills to people who are on a low income and on Universal Credit. It does not affect pensioners claiming Council Tax Reduction or people not on Universal Credit.
People working and claiming Universal Credit, the new national welfare benefit which was introduced in Cambridge last October, have their award recalculated every month. This means the council currently has no option but to recalculate Council Tax Reduction payments monthly as well.
This will increasingly lead to confusion among customers about their Council Tax instalments, making it more difficult for people to plan their finances, and for the council to ensure a good service in the face of increased costs.
Under the new proposals for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, people working and claiming Universal Credit would be allocated one of a number of different bands, based on their income, which will determine how much Council Tax they will have to pay. The amount of reduction in their Council Tax would not change as long as their earnings remained in that band.
It is anticipated that these changes would be easier to understand, would make it easier to plan household finances, would reduce the need for people to contact the council and would minimise the council’s administration costs.
The consultation started earlier this month and will continue until September. Among those whose opinions are being sought are current working age Council Tax Reduction recipients, other Council Tax payers and other partner organisations including Citizens Advice.
Cllr Richard Robertson, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “We are committed to helping with the cost of living for people in Cambridge on low incomes by reducing their Council Tax payments. After the national Universal Credit was introduced it soon became evident that our existing scheme would not integrate with it easily.
“That is why we have made these proposals to give recipients of Council Tax Reduction more stability in planning their finances, and to ensure the council’s costs are not adversely affected as more people move over to Universal Credit.”
Printed copies of the consultation documents are available from the Customer Service Centre at Mandela House or by phoning 01223 457000.