The Interim Section 151 Officer presented the draft Council Tax Support Scheme 2023/24 for the Executive Committee’s consideration.
Members were advised that there was a requirement for the Council to review and consult with the public on proposed changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme on an annual basis. In undertaking the review on this occasion, Officers had identified three potential options available to the Council:
· Option A – This option would involve increasing the income bands in the existing scheme in line with inflation and would introduce a disregard for childcare costs.
· Option B – The second option would increase the support available at bands 2 to 4 of the scheme and would provide additional support to low income households. There would also be the introduction of a disregard for childcare costs.
· Option C – The third option mirrored the changes proposed in Option B but would involve increasing the support available at bands 2 to 4 by a greater amount than for Option B.
Officers were suggesting that Option B was the most appropriate option for the Council to adopt moving forward. This would result in an increase in the number of residents eligible to receive support as well as the amount of support available. However, the financial impact on the Council and partner organisations would be less severe than for Option C.
In reviewing the options, Members were asked to note that, whilst Redditch Borough Council was the authority responsible for collecting Council Tax, Worcestershire County Council received the majority of income from Council Tax contributions. Redditch Borough Council only received 13 per cent of the income from Council Tax.
Members discussed the report and in doing so agreed that it would be appropriate to propose Option B for consultation with the public. In proposing Option B, Members commented that this option would help to provide support to more eligible residents than the current scheme and would increase the support available. However, this option would have less of a detrimental impact on the Council’s finances than Option C, which was important to take into account at a challenging time for local government finances.
During consideration of this item, Officers highlighted that the report had stated that Members were being asked to recommend a preferred option to Council. However, as the decision that was being taken was to identify an option for consultation with the public, rather than to determine a change to the Council Tax Support Scheme, this decision could be resolved by the Executive Committee.
Option B for the draft Council Tax Support Scheme is put out for Consultation.