From 1 April, Oxford City Council is introducing a new Council Tax Reduction scheme for working age people claiming Universal Credit.
The new scheme brings in a system of income bands to assess entitlement to Council Tax Reduction.
The council has changed the scheme to make it simpler. Income bands will allow people to vary their hours at work without losing support. The new scheme will also give applicants more certainty about how much council tax they need to pay, and will result in fewer council tax bills if their income fluctuates within the same band.
The income band system gives people applying for Council Tax Reduction a percentage reduction on their council tax. It is based on their Universal Credit award, earnings and some other types of income – such as income from lodgers. It does not include any Universal Credit paid for housing costs, or any other benefit award.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administers Universal Credit and provides monthly notifications to the council about Universal Credit awards to claimants. Council Tax Reduction claimants will still need to tell the council about changes that might affect their Council Tax Reduction – this includes changes to their household and any income that is not part of their Universal Credit calculation.
People who get Universal Credit will need to apply to the council if they want to make a new claim for Council Tax Reduction.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Board Member for Corporate and Customer Services, said: “We’re making changes to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme in order to make it easier for people to understand it and for our staff to administer it as more and more people claim Universal Credit in Oxford. The new income band system means that you can increase your hours or get a better paid job knowing in advance how much support we will give you to pay your council tax. You will also get fewer council tax bills if your Universal Credit changes – which I’m sure everyone will welcome.
“Universal Credit is a benefit that is paid nationally by the DWP and Council Tax Reduction is not included in it. Unlike many other councils up and down the country, we have chosen to continue to provide a Council Tax Reduction scheme for people of working age who are on low incomes.
“If you want help paying your council tax, you’ll need to apply to the council for Council Tax Reduction if you’re not already getting support. If you already get Council Tax Reduction and move onto Universal Credit, you’ll still need to let us know if you have changes to your household or income that are not included in your Universal Credit calculation.”
Proposed changes to working age Council Tax Reduction require public consultation, which the council held between July and September 2017. In addition to the new scheme for Universal Credit claimants, the council is making a number of other changes to the scheme that bring it into line with recent national changes to housing benefit.
These include changes to the way income is calculated for self-employed people with established businesses, a reduction in backdating and temporary absence periods, and the removal of the second adult rebate and family premium. Details of all these changes are on the council website at www.oxford.gov.uk/ctrs18.