Agenda item

Agenda item

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021/22

Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 February, will consider a report on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2021/22. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities and Tanya Bandekar, Service Manager Revenue & Benefits, have been invited to attend for this item.


Cllr Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for  Supporting Local Communities,  introduced the report. The Council was one of just 30 Councils which offered 100% Council Tax reduction via the scheme. This was increasingly important in the present Covid environment which was particularly challenging for some residents. She highlighted the major outcomes of the consultation which preceded the proposals now before the Committee.

The proposal to introduce a minimum charge for working age claimants to reduce the cost of the scheme was rejected as a result of consultation responses and an underling wish by Members to continue to provide 100% relief.

The following proposals were however supported by the consultation responses and would be going forward to the Cabinet:

·       Uprating  the current Income Bands for UC claimants


·       Introduction of an Income Banded scheme for all working age claimants not just UC claimants. The impact of which will be a need for fewer changes to be reported to the Council; less administration; more certainty for claimants and the realisation of  £120k of staff savings


·       Administering the scheme  as a discount from the amount of Council Tax due rather than a benefit.


·       Simplification of some of the scheme’s rules


It was also proposed that the existing Hardship Funding would continue to be available to support anyone adversely affected by unforeseen consequences of  changes to the scheme.

It had been a vibrant consultation with over 400 responses to it, more than in previous years.

The Committee was  pleased to see that it was still proposed to provide 100% relief for those who were entitled.  It was noted that no savings were envisaged beyond those achieved from simplification of the scheme and that the overall cost of the scheme was likely to increase as the number of those entitled to support from it increased. This would, in turn, have consequences from those other organisations which benefit from the collection of Council tax such as the County Council and Thames Valley Police but no adverse representations had been received by them.

The scheme and the language associated with it was not always easily accessible to those not familiar with it.  It  was agreed that future consultations would take this into account. This might include the use of  worked examples and  more consistent/appropriate references to the Oxford Living Wage/National Living Wage.

Cllr Tidball confirmed that the scheme as proposed for 2021-22 was financially sustainable on the basis of the overall budget decisions to be made soon and Members’ wish to continue the scheme on the basis set out in the report. The scheme would continue to be reviewed annually thereafter.

It was noted that the temporary £20 increase in Universal Credit was, perversely, unhelpful for many residents as it would take them to the point of the “Benefit Cap”. Its proposed cessation (April 2021) was unlikely to be of significant consequence for the majority of those benefiting from the CTR. The Government’s discretionary one off “self-isolation” payments of  £500 would be disregarded for CTR purposes as they would not be  regular payments.  

The Chair concluded by noting the Committee’s warm welcome for the report and its support of the Council’s wish to continue to provide 100% relief for eligible residents.


Supporting documents: