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Changes to Council Tax Reduction scheme aim to help more people in West Devon

31 January 2023

Coins Money Finance

Following a public consultation, West Devon Borough Council is planning to broaden the scope of its Council Tax Reduction scheme in light of the cost of living crisis.

The authority's Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme offers significant reductions to council tax payments to households facing financial pressures. The scheme is more important than ever, with many households struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Every year, the Council must review its CTR scheme, to decide if they are going to continue with the same scheme or revise it. The authority held a public consultation throughout November and December 2022 to gauge the opinions of residents. 23 people took part in the consultation.

Among the most significant proposed change to the CTR scheme is to "uplift" bands 2, 3 and 4 of the scheme by 20% (above current inflation) to take into account the cost of living crisis. This would give those households in these bands the opportunity to increase their income and still remain eligible for support. 43% of those who responded in the consultation supported these changes, with just over a third unsure about this proposal.

Other proposed changes include a change to the minimum income floor for self-employed people with caring responsibilities, which has support from 70% of respondents, and tweaking the earnings disregard to make it easier for the council to administer the scheme and make it easier to understand for residents, which was supported by 36% of those who took part in the consultation.

The recommendations went before the Council's Hub Committee on 31 January, with the recommendations to be fully agreed by Council on 21 February. If the proposals are adopted, changes would be introduced in the new financial year.

Cllr Tony Leech, West Devon Borough Council's Hub Member for the Cost of Living, said: "These proposed changes are designed to give low-income households the opportunity to earn a little more and still receive help with paying their council tax.

"The simplification of the scheme and these proposals will help those who could use some extra assistance and recognise the significance of the cost of living crisis."

This scheme will run alongside the government's Council Tax Support Fund, which is offering additional support to the 3.8 million households already receiving Council Tax support (reduction), while also providing councils with the resources and flexibility to determine the local approaches to support other vulnerable households in their area.

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