Council Tax Support

In 2013 the Coalition Government abolished Council Tax Benefit, forcing local councils to carry the costs of support for their most vulnerable residents.

This was made even more difficult by a 10 per cent cut in funding from national government. In addition, the ruling that pensioners be exempt from paying means that all cuts must be borne by working-age households.

While eight London boroughs have maintained full support for claimants, the majority have introduced minimum payment schemes. This means people previously deemed too poor to pay are now expected to afford up to 30 per cent of the council tax bill.

We’ve been monitoring the detrimental impacts this has had on both residents and local authorities – and campaigning for the reintroduction of full support – ever since. In recent months, Haringey and Richmond have begun consulting on plans to scrap their charges. We are pressing councillors in other Boroughs to do the same.

Reports

Drawing on Freedom of Information requests and the first-hand experiences of our clients, we have developed a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of localised support schemes on councils and residents across London.

Our reports show a great degree of variation between boroughs, in terms of resident arrears, council collection rates and the problematic use of bailiffs. Using the evidence we have gathered, the reports demonstrate the need for the reinstatement of fully-funded support for all claimants.

Still Too Poor to Pay: update on council tax support in London 2017-18, September 2017

Taking Control: the need for fundamental bailiff reform, March 2017

Still Too Poor To Pay: three years of localised council tax support in London, September 2016

Z2K Submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry into the Local Welfare Safety Net, November 2015

Too Poor To Pay, July 2015

A new poll tax? The impact of the abolition of council tax benefit in London, July 2014

Consultation responses

Whilst campaigning at a national level for the reintroduction of fully-funded council tax benefit, we also campaign for better support at a local level. Having researched the negative impacts of rising charges on residents and councils, we have campaigned for London boroughs to keep the minimum payments they demand from their poorest residents as low as possible.

We have had some significant successes: for example, in 2016 we successfully persuaded Tower Hamlets Council not to introduce a 20% charge for their lowest-income households and in 2017 Hackney scaled back its proposed cuts and established a Hardship Fund for those struggling to pay their bills.

The specifics of each council’s scheme and our reasons for opposing increases to their minimum payments are detailed in our submissions to their public consultations, below:

Z2K Response to Hackney Council Tax Support Consultation, November 2017

Z2K Response to Richmond upon Thames Council Tax Support Consultation, December 2016

Z2K Response to Tower Hamlets Council Tax Support Consultation, November 2016

Z2K Response to Wandsworth Council Tax Support Consultation, December 2015

Z2K Response to Kingston upon Thames Council Tax Support Consultation, December 2015

Z2K Response to Hillingdon Council Tax Support Consultation, December 2015

Z2K Response to Bromley Council Tax Support Consultation, October 2015

Z2K Response to Bexley Council Tax Support Consultation, October 2015

Z2K Response to Ealing Council Tax Support Consultation, September 2015

Z2K Response to Barnet Council Tax Support Consultation, October 2014

Z2K Response to Waltham Forest Council Tax Support Consultation, September 2014