Agenda item

Council Tax Reduction Scheme


Members were updated on the progress made on the review of the existing Council Tax

Reduction Scheme as well as the outcome of the Equality Impact Assessment. 


The Head of Revenues & Benefits outlined key points concerning the consultation for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme:


  • It ran for a nine-week period from 22 October 2021 to 24 December 202; the Service wrote to 6477 claimants together with 5000 randomly sampled non-claimant residents
  • 537 responses were received which was a very good response rate considering the length of the document and the previous consultation in 2017 which received only 387 responses. The current consultation saw a 39% increase. The rate also compared favourably to other local authorities; Ashford Borough Council received 88 responses and Dartford Borough Council only received 35 responses
  • The high number of responses received allowed for a high degree of confidence that a balanced view had been received; of the responses received, 99.4% lived in Gravesham, over 79% were in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, over 33% or their partners were working in self employment and 88.3% were liable to pay Council Tax. Improvements were also made on responses received from ethnic groups
  • The full list of consultation results could be found at appendix five, but the main result was that 41.7% wished to retain the current CTRS however that figure changed significantly once they considered the scheme under question four which then saw a 57.2% agreement for the new scheme
  • All nine proposed changes received agreement ranging from over 57% to 82.8%
  • The Equality Impact Assessment was attached at appendix four; the Service recognised that there would be risk to some claimants and in order to mitigate the risk support funds would be utilised. The Service would work to identify those cases that would be adversely affected to the proposed changes to the CTRS using the Low Income Family Tracker


In response to Members questions, the Head of Revenue & Benefits advised that:


  • 31 third sector organisations were invited to the virtual meeting for consultation but only one organisation attended; however, ten organisations did respond to the consultation overall
  • Feedback on table 1 on page 19 of the report was that it was a very helpful grid scheme which made the complex subject a bit easier to understand
  • The Service developed the consultation with the assistance of a consultant who had worked with a number of other local authorities on their consultations; the Assistant Revenue & Benefits Manager and team undertook a significant amount of work continually recalculating and tweaking the Scheme to ensure it kept the number of adversely affected claimants to a minimum
  • Working with the Comms Team during the consultation was paramount to receiving the positive response rate as their online campaigns and videos allowed greater audiences to be reached. Writing to all claimants on the current CTRS and to 5000 non-claimants that could become claimants in the future also attributed to the higher-than-normal response rate. Excellent support was also received from Customer Services during the consultation. The Head of Revenues & Benefits was happy to advise other managers on how the consultation was created, led and advertised to assist in receiving higher responses in other services consultations
  • The non-claimants contacted were chosen through a random number generator in the system with the first 5000 being selected
  • The Service used the Low Income Family Tracker to identify cases where they were already in financial crisis or would move into financial crisis due to the proposed changes. Detailed modelling had been undertaken and those residents that would be adversely affected were now known to the team; they would be contacted and directed to the Hardship Fund


Members commented their general approval of the Scheme and were happy that their previous concerns had been addressed through thorough consultation and officers had included many of their points in the final report.


Members noted the detailed results of the public consultation process on the proposed

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023 together with the equality impact




Supporting documents: