Agenda and minutes
Venue: Civic Centre, Gravesend, Kent
Contact: Committee Section
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Gurjit Kaur Bains; Cllr Ejaz Aslam appeared as her substitute.
The minutes of the meeting of the Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 16 September 2021 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of interest
No Declarations of Interest were made
Item 'Called In' from the Cabinet meeting of 4 October 2021
The Chair of the Overview Scrutiny Committee has called in the following
item for the meeting on Thursday 14 October 2021, 7:30pm:-
Item 9. Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-23
Reason: That further clarification is needed on the impact of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the proposed public consultation.
Cabinet Member: At this stage there is no need for Cabinet Members to be present.
Officer: The relevant officers for this matter are requested to attend to introduce the report and answer questions from Members.
Please find the Cabinet report for this item attached to this agenda.
The Head of Revenues & Benefits updated Members on the progress made on the review of the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme and the public consultation on changing the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme from April 2022.
The Head of Revenues & Benefits guided Members through the report and highlighted the following:
· Any changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme have to be agreed at Full Council
· An enormous amount of modelling has been done on the new scheme
· The proposed scheme is not the final scheme and the consultation document is not final consultation document.
· The proposals in the report only affect working age claimants, it does not affect the scheme for pensionable age claimants which is set on a national basis
· One of the most important changes is that under the new Scheme the service would accept claims for Universal Credit as claims for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme as well.
· One of the biggest issues currently is that, every time there is a financial change to a residents claim, a new Council Tax bill had to be issued to them, which means the claimant could potentially receive twelve new Council Tax bills in a year. This is confusing to claimants and is a source of complaint.
· The new scheme is intended to make it far easier for claimants and potential claimants to access.
· The new scheme will simplify how we calculate net income via an income grid scheme. This will provide transparency and show where the claimant fits and what discount they get.
· The new scheme will ensure that any new claimant change of circumstances is effective on a daily basis, instead of a weekly basis under the old scheme.
· The new scheme will be streamlined to bring it in line with Universal Credit, changes include the following:
- Removal of extended payment provision.
- Removal of transitional protection
- Self-employed: minimal income floor will be calculated at a rate of 35 hours per week based on the national minimum wage.
· The Council is still looking to reserve the right for discretion in any exceptional circumstances concerning the self-employed minimal income floor
· The Council is looking to proactively identify cases where people need assistance or are moving into financial crisis and work with them.
· The Council has a statutory duty to consult on any proposed scheme(s) identified by the modelling. It is imperative that individuals and organisations are given access to respond to the consultation. Consequently, the service has devised a stakeholder network map to identify key stakeholder groups
· The consultation will commence for nine weeks on the week beginning the 18 October 2021 and last until 24 December 2021.
· All Claimants will be written to as well as a sample of non-claimants to obtain feedback.
· The Revenues and Benefits team will work with the Communications team in order to ensure that there is an effective campaign across various media channels.
· The consultation will primarily be website based but the Council is conscious of digital poverty and will ... view the full minutes text for item 15.