Appendix 2 attached.
The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources presented the Council Tax Support Scheme and Wider Support Framework. The Committee was advised that the Council had had a scheme since 2013. The current system enabled working age applicants to receive up to 80 per cent relief on their Council Tax. In September Members had agreed that the Council should launch a consultation about the potential to introduce a banded discount scheme. This consultation exercise had subsequently been held and the majority of respondents had reported that they were not in favour of this proposal.
Officers had concluded that the current arrangements should remain in place for 2019/20. This would provide time to observe how changes to Council tax support schemes that were being introduced by other local authorities impacted in their communities and on this basis the most appropriate arrangements for Redditch could be selected. Changes were proposed however in respect of the Council Tax Support available to care leavers and proposals detailed in the report were designed to help them. These proposals corresponded with recommendations that had been made by the Care Leavers Short Sharp Scrutiny Review in 2018.
Following the presentation of the report Members discussed a number of matters in detail:
· The needs of care leavers, including the benefits arising from further information being provided to care leavers about Council Tax and the support they were entitled to.
· The reasons why the Council decided not to introduce a banded support scheme.
· The number of residents who responded as part of the consultation exercise. Officers advised that they would provide this information outside the meeting.
· The problems that had been experienced by other local authorities that had already introduced a banding system. Some Councils had incorrectly inputted details about residents which had caused problems with the system.
During consideration of this item a care leaver was invited by the Chair to speak about his experiences and the extent to which additional support through the Council Tax Support Scheme would be appreciated by care leavers. Members were informed that many care leavers struggled financially and emotionally when they left care and moved into alternative accommodation. The proposals in the report would help care leavers at a time when they were particularly vulnerable to regain some stability. Many care leavers would repay the community in the long-term as they were all keen to succeed in life.
the Local Council Tax Support scheme is revised to provide:
1) Care Leavers under 21 years of age are treated as a protected group and provided 100% Local Council Tax Reduction (LCTR);
2) Care leavers aged 21 years or over and under 25 years of age are treated as a protected group and provided up to 100% LCT;
3) the scheme is uprated in line with national welfare benefits; and
4) Council Tax Hardship Scheme is amended to enable transitional support to be provided to care leavers under 25 whose income results in significant withdrawal of support.