31 Jul 2020 Last updated at 17:00

Council tax support consultation starts

The annual two-month consultation which looks at potential changes to the Island’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme is to get underway.

The Isle of Wight Council runs the consultation each year as part of the process to help set council tax - and no decisions have yet been made for next year.

The consultation – from 1 August to 30 September - presents a series of new options, influenced by financial factors including central government funding and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The new options include reducing the maximum level of council tax support from 70 per cent to either 65 per cent or 60 per cent.

 

Also among the six options are: changing the blanket protection of claimants in receipt of a disability benefit, with future reductions based on income and household details; including Carer’s Allowance in total income calculations; not including the housing element of Universal Credit in income; and changes to levels of earnings ‘disregards’ and non-dependent deductions.

 

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 consultation and other factors will be used to shape a final decision by the council early in 2021. If approved, changes to the scheme could be made from April next year.

 

Cabinet member for resources, Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, said: “It has been widely reported that the financial predicament of councils along with all our communities, have been severely affected by the exceptional and ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

“Currently it is estimated this will mean a hole in the council’s finances of £10 million for next year and, as a result, we are having to closely reassess and develop options to manage this very difficult situation.

 

“Spending is being closely analysed and scrutinised across all council services – and in relation to the Local Council Tax Support Scheme we are very carefully considering a range of options.

 

“This consultation will help us to shape these options prior to a final decision early next year, and I would strongly urge people to register their views over the next two months.

 

“We are acutely aware of the very difficult times both in financial and wellbeing terms that many Islanders are going through, and we expect that the loss of employment from the pandemic may increase those numbers. We shall continue to offer support to any increased numbers but without an increase in budget, the amount available to each is likely to be less. We will maintain our hardship fund and ensure it has the capacity to support those in particular need.”

 

More information on the options and a link to the consultation can be found on the council’s website from 1 August at: www.iow.gov.uk/lcts . Paper copies of the survey can be requested by contacting the council on (01983) 823950. An ‘easy read’ version can be obtained by contacting People Matter on (01983) 241494.

 

The consultation closes on 30 September, with recommendations to the Full Council in January next year, and the new scheme due to come in from April 2021.

 

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.

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The consultation is for two months
The consultation is for two months
Factfile
  • The consultation runs from 1 August to 30 September.
  • The new options include reducing the maximum level of council tax support from 70 per cent to either 65 per cent or 60 per cent.
 
Isle of Wight, UK