Harrogate Borough Council is asking residents and other key stakeholders to give their views on the future of its Council Tax reduction scheme for people of working age.
From 1 April 2013, the Government abolished Council Tax Benefit replacing it with locally designed schemes with reduced funding.
The council now has to consider how it continues to provide support for low income households and is seeking views on whether changes should be made to the scheme that take into account:
- the cost of administering the scheme and
- changes the Government has made to other welfare benefits including Housing Benefit, which the council administers on behalf of the Government.
The consultation questionnaire sets out possible options for changes to the scheme which would start from 1 April 2017, and asks residents which options the council should take forward.
Any changes will only affect working age people. The Pension Age Scheme would be unaffected by any of the options set out in the consultation as this element of the Council Tax reduction scheme is set by the Government and can’t be changed at a local level.
Despite reduced funding, the council has been able to maintain up to a 100% reduction for the most financially vulnerable households in the district. It is now looking to continue to achieve this through making some changes to the administration of the scheme as outlined in the seven options proposed in the consultation.
Despite the financial challenges facing the country and therefore the reducing grant the council receives from the Government, I am determined that we help the least well-off families by maintaining the full financial support for them.
We remain committed to helping vulnerable households by reducing their council tax where appropriate. With changes to other benefits though we need to look at how we target the resources we have most effectively.
We want local people, particularly the current beneficiaries from the council’s scheme, to give us the lead in how we do this. I hope people will take part in the consultation and we will consider all feedback when it comes to making a decision on the future of the scheme later this year.
For further information and to take part in the consultation, go to the council’s website at www.harrogate.gov.uk and click on ‘Have your say’. The closing date for responses is Sunday 16 October 2016.