January 2014 – Council Tax Support ‘Patchy’

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In a report published last week, the National Audit Office (NAO) evaluated the value for money of the introduction of council tax support by assessing whether it achieved its policy objectives and found that whilst the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) worked effectively with local authorities to ensure council tax support was introduced on schedule, not all local schemes will achieve the expected objectives outlined by the Department.

For example, most local authorities used new powers to charge more council tax on properties, such as second and short-term empty homes, to help offset the funding reduction for council tax support. But 71 per cent of local authorities also introduced schemes that require working-age claimants to pay at least some council tax regardless of income, and 41 per cent have no protections for vulnerable groups, other than those mandated for pensioners and war pensioners.
The NAO highlights that although the DCLG expects local authorities to implement schemes which protect vulnerable people and improve work incentives, it takes the view that scheme designs are local decisions and does not therefore plan to intervene in local authorities’ scheme choices.

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