As part of its commitment to tackling poverty and inequality in the city, Oxford City Council has agreed to help low income households with the cost of council tax by retaining 100% support.
The council passed its 2020/21 council tax reduction (CTR) scheme on Monday (27 January), making it one of a few English councils continuing to provide full support with council tax costs for working age CTR claimants.
Councils have been responsible for drawing up their own CTR schemes since the abolition of national council tax benefit for working age people in April 2013.
At the same time, the government began phasing out its revenue support grant for local authorities and the council now carries the full cost of its CTR scheme. The council estimates that providing CTR will cost £1.6 million in 2019/20 and £1.7 million in 2020/21.
In 2019, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that reductions in central government support meant that nearly 90% of English councils had made cuts to their CTR schemes.
The most common change to CTR across England is the introduction of minimum payments that require all households to pay at least a proportion of their council tax. The IFS found that two fifths of councils now have a minimum payment of at least 20%.
The council also agreed to uprate the income bands used to calculate CTR for claimants on Universal Credit in line with the national minimum wage and Oxford Living Wage. This change will ensure that households getting 100% CTR will continue to do so.
Oxford City Council is one of a small handful of councils to retain our council tax reduction scheme at 100% for working age households. This demonstrates our commitment to preventing homelessness and our support for financially vulnerable people in our communities.
The 100% discount benefits more than 1,000 households in Oxford. This provides a significant financial benefit for people who have suffered the most from the cumulative impact of policies like welfare reform.
Government funding cuts mean that three million more households across England now have to pay some council tax or a greater proportion of their bill than in 2013. I’m proud that Oxford is bucking that trend and that we’re doing what we can to protect people who can least afford to pay the price of austerity.
Councillor Marie Tidball, cabinet member for supporting local communities