Oxford City Council has launched a consultation on changes to its council tax reduction scheme (CTR).
Oxford City Council’s scheme
Since the end of national council tax benefit (CTB) in April 2013, councils have been responsible for drawing up their own support schemes. Oxford is one of a small number of councils who have not reduced the overall level of financial support that was available before 2013, even though government funding for council tax support has reduced annually, and ended completely in 2019.
Because of government cuts to funding and an increase in caseload due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the scheme will cost the City Council more than £1.7 million this year.
In Oxford, 8,563 people currently get help to pay their council tax. The amount of help they get depends on their income and their household, with people on some benefits not having to pay anything. These benefits include income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS), Guarantee Credit and income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People in equivalent circumstances on Universal Credit (UC) will also get 100 per cent CTR support.
The proposed changes
he Council is proposing changes to the scheme for 2021/22 that will see:
- the introduction of an income band scheme to cover all working age people. This currently only applies to people on Universal Credit.
- making council tax reduction a discount from the overall council tax bill
- asking people about possible options for reducing support
- establishing a proposed reduction of capital thresholds
- reducing the amount of CTR where there are non-dependants in the household.
The proposed changes would not affect anyone of pension age as pensioners are still covered by a separate national support scheme.
“Oxford City Council is determined to help those on a low income, especially at this time of crisis. After the government ended the national scheme seven years ago we continued to be one of the few councils in the country to maintain the same level of support. Like all local authorities, the Council is facing financial challenges arising from COVID-19 and so we must consider a range of options to take the scheme forward whilst also trying to promote financial inclusion at this difficult time. I urge those with an interest in this scheme to spend a few minutes to take part in this consultation.”
Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities
To take part in the consultation visit the council tax reduction 2021/22 page on the City Council’s website. The consultation runs until 13 November 2020.