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Scheme Principles

From 1st April 2013, the government abolished national council tax benefit. Instead each council introduced a local council tax support scheme. The ending of council tax benefit was part of the government's Welfare Reforms which aim to encourage people into work, reduce dependency on benefits and encourage financial independence, whilst protecting pensioners and other vulnerable groups.

What is Council Tax Support?

Every council has had to create a council tax support scheme that is suitable for its communities. The government is reducing the funding available for council tax support by around 10%. This shortage of funding means that, using feedback from widespread public consultation, we have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial support, and how much they receive, under the new scheme.

For households of pension credit age, the government will continue to tell us the rules that we must use to calculate council tax support. These are broadly the same as the old council tax benefit rules, so there should be no reduction in the level of support given. Further information about council tax support for households of pension credit age can be found at gov.uk prescribed requirement regulations

Mendip's council tax support scheme for households of working age is based on the principles and rules of the old council tax benefit scheme and it will remain a means test. There are, however, some key areas where the new scheme differs - seven changes in total, explained as follows:

1 - Increased non-dependant deductions

If a person receiving council tax benefit has a non-dependant living with them, a deduction is made from the amount they are entitled to. The level of deduction is based on the income / circumstance of the non-dependant. A non-dependant is someone who normally lives with a claimant on a non-commercial basis, for example, adult daughters, sons other relatives and friends. The table below gives details of the non-dependant deductions that will be used for council tax support from April 2013.

Non-dependant deductions for council tax support20132012
Non-dependant receiving Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income based), or Employment Support Allowance (Income related)£4.80Nil
Non-dependant aged 18 years or over and in paid employment 
- gross income less than £180.00 per week£5.80£3.30
- gross income £180.00 to £315.99 per week£10.55£6.55
- gross income £316.00 to £393.99 per week£13.50£8.25
- gross income more than £394.00 per week£16.40£9.90
Others aged 18 or over£5.80£3.30

2 - Additional support for exceptional cases of hardship/vulnerability

For council tax benefit, a discretionary hardship fund is available to provide extra help for households in receipt of housing and / or council tax benefit. From April 2013 this will not be available to use for council tax support.

However, Mendip District Council has approved its own discretionary hardship fund. This means Mendip's scheme will include provision for a "safety net" to ensure that where exceptional need is demonstrated up to 100% council tax relief can still be given. We recognise that the circumstances of our working age customers and the implications of the new scheme means that further help may be necessary in certain circumstances.

3 - Limit on maximum support

Council tax benefit helped people on the lowest incomes by paying all of their council tax. Under the new scheme, there will be a limit to the maximum support a person can receive. This will mean that all working-age people will be required to pay a minimum contribution towards their council tax. The maximum level of support will be 80%. This would mean a bill for a council tax band D property being at least £4 - £5 a week.

4 - Taking child maintenance into account as income

Child maintenance payments received are not counted as income when calculating council tax benefit. When calculating council tax support all child maintenance received will count as income. For a household with this income type, this will reduce the support you receive from us by 20p for every £1 in maintenance you receive.

5 - Abolish second adult rebate

A person whose income is too high to receive council tax benefit was able to receive a reduction of up to 25% if they have other adult(s) on a low income in their household, regardless of how much income and capital the householder has. This is known as the second adult rebate scheme. From 1st April 2013, second adult rebate will be abolished for working age claimants. So, if you currently receive second adult rebate you will lose this from 1st April 2013.

6 - Increase the earned income disregard

A small part of any income which is earned (wages or salary) is not included within the means test which we use to calculate how much council tax benefit to award. The council tax support scheme will see an increase in the amount of earned income which we do not include within the means test calculation. This is to support the government's aim to make a person better off when in work than when not in work. The changes to this earned income disregard are:

Single person Increase amount disregarded from £5 to £10 a week

Couple Increase amount disregarded from £10 to £20 a week

Lone parent Increase amount disregarded from £25 to £37.50 a week

Disabled or long-term sick Increase amount disregarded from £20 to £30 a week

7 - Include income from sub-tenants and boarders

A sub-tenant or boarder is someone who lives with a claimant on a commercial basis. £20 of any payment from a sub-tenant is not counted as income and the first £20 a week income from a boarder, plus half the rest of rent paid, is not counted when calculating council tax benefit. When calculating council tax support we will treat all income received from sub-tenants and boarders as income. This will reduce the amount of support a household with this income type receives. It means for every £1 you receive from sub-tenants or boarders you will lose 20p in the support you receive.

Last modified: 08 February 2018