This consultation is open. The final date for feedback is Friday 11 October 2019.

Each year we have to decide whether to change the Council Tax Support scheme for working age residents. This consultation is for Torbay’s proposed Council Tax Support scheme from 1 April 2020.

Council Tax Support is a means-tested discount administered by local authorities. It provides a discount for people who are unemployed, on a low income or unable to work, with help towards paying their Council Tax charge.

Residents who are of working age (by this we mean people who have not yet reached state pension age), can receive a maximum reduction of 70% of their total Council Tax charge. Therefore everybody of working age who receives Council Tax Support must contribute 30% or more towards their Council Tax bill.

Why is it proposed to change the current Council Tax Support scheme?

The current Council Tax Support scheme is based on an outdated benefit approach which can change entitlement on a weekly basis. A new scheme framework has been designed to reflect a more modern approach which is easier to understand, whilst supporting current changing trends and the needs of Torbay residents. It is also an approach that many other Councils are also adopting. It is important to note that we are not looking to spend less money on Council Tax Support through these proposed changes to the scheme.

The introduction of Universal Credit in Torbay by the Department for Work & Pensions from 5 September 2018 has had a significant impact on the current Council Tax Support scheme for working age households. Universal Credit is highly reactive and the amount received each month by residents can fluctuate.

Under the current working age Council Tax Support scheme, all changes to household income affect the amount of Council Tax Support awarded. A recalculation of Council Tax Support adjusts the amount of the Council Tax charge due for payment. This change prompts a revised Council Tax bill to be issued, adjusting both the instalment amounts and dates due for payment.

Many working age households are now receiving multiple, recalculated Council Tax bills throughout the year, continually revising the amount due for payment. This can make it very difficult for low income households to budget or understand how much they need to pay, which increases the risk of households falling into arrears with their bill.

Introducing an income grid system for the calculation of Council Tax Support entitlement would reduce the need to produce multiple revised Council Tax bills, as the award of Council Tax Support would not need to be recalculated each time there is a small fluctuation of income.

Will less money be available within the new proposed Council Tax Support scheme?

No. We are not looking to spend less money on Council Tax Support. The level of expenditure available to support payments of Council Tax Support to residents would remain the same. Working age residents can currently claim up to a 70% reduction in their Council Tax charge. The new scheme would continue to offer a 70% maximum reduction.

Can the maximum amount of reduction (70%) be increased?

Currently working age customers are asked to pay a minimum of 30% towards their Council Tax bill. If we were to increase the maximum amount of reduction (70%) that was awarded without increasing the level of expenditure to finance Council Tax Support, this would mean that those who do not currently receive the maximum would receive less or even no Council Tax Support at all.

Who could be affected by the outcome of this consultation?

Residents who are of working age that currently receive Council Tax Support and working age residents that may apply in the future could be affected.

Who will the outcome of this consultation not affect?

Residents of pension age will not be affected as they are protected by Central Government legislation. These proposed changes will only affect claims from those of working age.

Can I view a draft copy of the proposed Council Tax Support scheme for 2020/2021?

Yes, this can be viewed below or a hard copy is available to view in Torquay, Paignton, Churston and Brixham libraries.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme - Draft
Draft document for consultation which details how the scheme will operate for both pension credit age and working age applicants.

  Complete the Council Tax Support consultation Opens in a new window

The closing date for this consultation is 11 October 2019. We will listen carefully to what residents tell us and take the responses into consideration when making a final decision on the 2020/21 scheme. Full results from the consultation will be available on the Council's website.

If approved, the new scheme will start on 1 April 2020. The Council will consider the impact of the scheme annually and consult again if it thinks further changes need to be made.