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This consultation is now closed. The final date for feedback was 31 October 2016.

We are inviting residents and other key stakeholders to take part in a public consultation.

The consultation is about proposed changes to our Council Tax Support scheme for 2017/18. We are keen to ensure that all council tax payers are aware of the changes we have proposed. We recognise these changes will affect some residents and want to get a full range of views before a final decision is made.

Tell us what you think

Any final decisions are yet to be made and any comments you have will be used to inform our plans for the scheme in the future.

This survey is now closed.

Below is some information on the consultation. For more information on the proposed scheme please see our frequently asked questions.

Our medium and long term finances show that we have a projected budget gap of £6.8 million in 2017/18, rising to over £18.5 million by 2019/20 if no action is taken to address the financial position.

This presents an immense financial challenge to prepare and deliver robust budgets year-on-year which provide statutory services as well as the discretionary services that are valued by the community.

If we continue to provide the same level of Council Tax Support, the cost of the scheme will significantly rise by 2019/20. This is in addition to further significant reductions in Government funding. These funding reductions mean that we have to look at how we deliver all of our services and the Council Tax Support scheme cannot be excluded from this challenge. Decisions about changes to our Council Tax Support scheme need to be considered alongside the wider challenges being faced by local authorities.

There are also a number of other changes required to bring the scheme in line with Housing Benefit changes made by Central Government and Universal Credit.

Our current scheme is based on the previous national Council Tax Benefit scheme but with three main changes:

  • Maximum level of support is 75 % of the council tax charge
  • Savings limit of £6,000
  • Exceptional Hardship Fund (providing additional financial support for vulnerable people)

We are proposing to make ten changes that are listed below to the current scheme from 1 April 2017:

  • Reducing the maximum level of support to 55% of the council tax charge
  • Restrict the maximum level of support to the equivalent of a band C property charge
  • Savings limit of £3,000
  • Removal of the family premium
  • Reducing backdating for new claims to one month
  • Basing the reduction on a set minimum income for self-employed earners after one year’s self-employment
  • Reducing the period a person can be absent from Great Britain and still receive a reduction to four weeks
  • Removing the work related activity component for new ESA applicants
  • Limiting the number of dependent children within the calculation to a maximum of two
  • Removing entitlement to Severe Disability Premium where another person is paid Universal Credit (Carers Element)
  • Working age households in Torbay who receive or apply for Council Tax Support from 1 April 2017
  • Each of the proposed changes may affect working age households claiming under the scheme in different ways 
  • State Pension Credit age households are not affected by our proposals

The proposals we have set out in this consultation could deliver some of the savings we need to help meet the severe budgetary difficulties we are is facing. If we keep the current scheme as it is without any changes we would need to find savings from other sources.

This could mean:

  • Increasing council tax - it is possible that we may decide on an increase of up to 2% for Adult Social Care and up to 1.99% for all other council services to enable us to achieve our targets for savings and service provision.
  • Using council financial reserves - using reserves to fund the Council Tax Support scheme would provide only a short term solution and could increase the risk of us not being able to deal with an emergency effectively.

  • Changing the way we deliver our services - Since 2010 we have made substantial reductions to the amount we spend on services and we are currently looking for a further £18.5 million savings by 2020.  Any further reductions could compromise the our ability to provide an appropriate level of service.

However these are not likely to be suitable long term alternatives in the current financial climate. 

Council Tax Support Scheme Proposal
Details of the proposals for the changes to Council Tax Support for 2017/18.

The consultation closes at midnight on the 31 October 2016. We will use the information from this consultation to help make our decision on the scheme from 1 April 2017.

We will publish the results from this consultation online later this year. A final decision on what the scheme will look like will be made no later than 31 January 2017.

If you are in receipt of Council Tax Support and are affected by any of the changes, we will write to you.