Agenda item

Council Tax Support Scheme 2022/23

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance


The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report and explained that each year since 2013 the council has been required to set its local council tax support scheme for working age residents. Council tax support for pensioners was not localised and continued to be provided for by a national scheme.


The cost of the scheme is funded by this council and the precepting authorities in proportion to the share of council tax. Funding for the scheme was initially cut by 10% in 2013/4 then was rolled into revenue support grant and subject to annual cuts. As this Council no longer receives revenue support grant it must fund its share of the cost of the scheme.


Despite the reduction in funding this council continued to provide the same level of support to working age residents that was available under the former council tax benefit scheme. By 2018/19  CBC was one of only 36 councils that hadn’t made changes to their scheme to reduce the cost.


In 2019/20 a new scheme was approved. One of the main aims was to ensure that the most vulnerable and those with the lowest incomes continued to receive 100% support. The scheme is based on 5 income bands with the highest band providing support at 100% of the council tax liability, then reducing to 80%, 60%, 40% and 20% as household income increases.


In the first year of the scheme the overall costs reduced and the most vulnerable and those with the lowest incomes were protected.   Due to the impact of Covid the caseload for working age people increased significantly in 2020/21 and was up by 25% in April 2021. The Cabinet outlined the following :


1st March 2020

 3,984 recipients cost £3.3million


1st April 2021

4,988 recipients  cost £4.7million


31 October 2021

4,839 recipients  cost £4.5million  (Later point than figures in the report)


Despite the increase in the number of working age residents who require assistance, the council continued to provide 100% support to the most vulnerable and those with the lowest incomes.  During 2021/22 the income bands were increased so that residents benefitting from the £20 Universal Credit uplift would not be penalised because of this additional income.  For 2022/23 the income bands are being maintained and will remain at the higher level. This will benefit residents if they choose to take on extra work as a result of losing the £20 uplift.


The Cabinet Member explained that although the number of working age residents receiving council tax support was now reducing it was anticipated that it will continue to reduce slowly. The caseload in 2022/23 is expected to remain higher than at pre-pandemic levels. Many people are still recovering financially from the effects of the pandemic and the scheme will provide the vital help they need during 2022/23.  



He wished to put on record his thanks to all the officers in the revenue and benefits teams for what has been an extraordinary amount of work during the last 12 months supporting residents in the town.


The following responses were given to Member questions :

  • The total amount of council tax support was not currently fluctuating to any great degree despite changes as claimants moved back into work for example
  • The council has discretion on what council tax support is provided
  • The Cabinet Member Finance undertook to respond at a later date on the financial impact on the council of the universal credit uplift due to the detail required to work out the margin.


In the debate that followed a Member welcomed the fact that the council provided this discretionary support, expressing disappointing that this was not funded nationally to ensure people were treated equally. There was significant poverty in working-age families not just in Cheltenham but nationwide and this should be considered from a communities point of view, rather than just financially.

RESOLVED (unanimously) that

1)    the council tax support scheme for 2022/23 for working age customers in Appendix 2 and summarised in Appendix 3 be approved.

2)    authority be delegated to the Executive Director for Finance and Assets in consultation with the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets to uprate income levels in line with any increase in Welfare Benefits by 21 February 2022, if required



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