Council supports Oxford’s low income residents by retaining 100% council tax support scheme for another year

Published: Thursday, 27th January 2022

Oxford City Council has agreed to retain its 100% Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme to help to prevent Oxford residents going further into poverty and building up Council Tax debts.

At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 26 January, Cabinet recommended that Council adopts the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022/23 at its February meeting.

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.

The decision makes Oxford City Council one of less than 40 councils in England to maintain a 100% CTR scheme, providing financial support at much the same level for claimants as existed within the old Council Tax Benefit scheme.

At its meeting on the 15 September 2021, Cabinet agreed to consult on a new CTR Scheme for 2022/23. Public consultation was undertaken for a period of eight weeks from 22 September 2021 to 17 November 2021 with existing CTR claimants, Oxfordshire County Council, the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner and advice agencies in Oxford.

The majority of respondents did not want to see an increase in Council Tax or Fees and Charges, but supported cutting other services to fund the CTR Scheme.

Currently, no Government funding is provided towards the CTR Scheme and so the Council carries the full cost. The council estimates that providing CTR will cost the Council £1.9m in 2022/ 23.

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 council has agreed to make a change to its scheme which uprates the income bands used to calculate CTR for claimants, in line with the national minimum wage and Oxford Living Wage. This will ensure that the bands are in line with wage increases

Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities at Oxford City Council, said:

“The Covid 19 Pandemic has hit people on low incomes the hardest. A further increase in household fuel bills and living costs is creating deeper hardship and anxiety for people and families. 

“As a City Council with a public pledge of tackling inequality across the city, it’s vital our poorest people are not penalised by reducing the support currently available.

“Unsurprisingly, in the response to our recent consultation with stakeholders, those residents who are struggling are keen to still receive full support.

“The Council’s decision to retain its Council Tax support at 100% demonstrates its commitment to ensuring a fairer Oxford for everyone.”