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.
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.
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: