10 Jun 2019 Last updated at 10:00

Local council tax support consultation

A two-month consultation has been launched today (Monday 10 June) on potential changes to the Island’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme.

Islanders are being asked for their views on a series of options, which have been influenced by national changes – including the introduction of Universal Credit and reductions in government grant funding.
 
The current scheme provides up to 70 per cent council tax support for people on certain benefits and low incomes.
 
The three new options under consideration would replace the existing ‘means testing’ approach with a new system - aimed to simplify calculations and make it easier for people to budget.
 
The changes could affect more than 5,300 existing working age claimants across the Island, with some potentially seeing an increase in their council tax support and others a reduction. Those of pension age will not be affected.
 
The options, however, do maintain the existing maximum of up to 70 per cent council tax support, and there are elements of additional support for some applicants.
 
If approved, changes to the scheme could be made from April next year.

'National factors'
 
Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: “I would strongly urge people to register their views on this consultation, which may potentially affect the council tax support for a significant number of claimants.
 
“National factors, such as Universal Credit, have necessitated the need to bring in a revised scheme – and the options have been drawn up following careful consideration of a range of alternatives.”
 
The options introduce a new ‘income grid scheme’ to help calculate the council tax support claimants might receive. This takes into account the national introduction of Universal Credit by the Department for Work and Pensions from October 2018, replacing six existing benefits.
 
Councillor Stewart said: “The consultation includes an explanation of how the options might work, and it is important to stress to Islanders on low incomes that we will continue to retain and operate a hardship fund for those in particular need.”
 
More information on the options can be found on the council’s website within the consultation document, which can be completed online at: www.iow.gov.uk/lcts . Paper copies of the survey can be requested by contacting the council on (01983) 823950.
 
The consultation closes on 5 August, with recommendations to the Full Council in November this year, and the new scheme would come in from April 2020.
 
Since 2013, the way that Local Council Tax Support is applied has been localised; so individual councils can create an approach that works best for their local area, but influenced by reductions in government grant funding and other national factors.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced Universal Credit on the Isle of Wight from October 2018 to replace six existing benefits.

The options

The consultation considers three possible options for changes that could be made to the scheme from April 2020: 
 
- Introduce an ‘income grid scheme’ for all working age applicants, to replace the current means testing approach.
- Introduce an ‘income grid scheme’ for all working age applicants, to replace the current means testing approach, with the addition of three further options to assist with administration and to provide additional support to some applicants.
- Disregard any payment made under the Infected Blood and Thalidomide Regulations in full as income or capital.

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The consultation runs for two months
The consultation runs for two months
Factfile
  • The consultation considers three possible options for changes that could be made to the scheme from April 2020.
  • Since 2013, the way that Local Council Tax Support is applied has been localised; so individual councils can create an approach that works best for their local area.
  • The changes could affect more than 5,300 existing working age claimants across the Island.
 
Isle of Wight, UK