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19th Oct, 2021

Safety net still in place as Redditch battles to cut council tax red tape

FEEDBACK from a public consultation on proposed changes to the council tax support scheme is set to be examined by borough councillors and officers.

The eight-week consultation was into plans to replace the current means-tested system with one based on income.

The catalyst has been the full roll out of Universal Credit (UC) in Redditch which assesses claimants every month and can result in recipients receiving up to 12 different council tax bills depending on their status.

Under the proposed scheme only significant changes in income would affect the level of discount awarded.

“With Universal Credit people can receive several different council tax bills in a year, which is confusing to say the least,” said Coun Tom Baker-Price (Con, Headless Cross & Oakenshaw), portfolio holder for corporate management.

“Our aim here is to simplify the system for residents and reduce administration costs.”

He hit out at suggestions the council was proposing to double the proportion of council tax paid from 20 per cent to 40 per cent for the lowest income households.

“20 per cent was suggested some years ago as the minimum repayment and we are keeping that as it is,” he said.

“If people cannot pay 20 per cent then we have a hardship fund.

“If we put the repayments up to 40 per cent we would just be pushing more people into the hardship fund which doesn’t make sense.”

The council currently spends approximately £2.4m on its council tax support scheme.

If the proposals are adopted, the council would have to upgrade its computer system at a cost of £45,000 and pay an annual maintenance fee of around £9,000.

Example income bands would range from an 80 per cent discount for a single person earning up to £74.99 per week to a 20 per cent discount for a family with two or more children earning up to £434.99 per week.

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