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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Council Tax Reduction Scheme Still in Place

One of the papers before the Brent Council Cabinet on Monday will be the annual review of the Council Tax Support scheme.  This replaced the national scheme back in 2012/13, and I had a hand in designing it.  

The report states:

"A fundamental  review of the current  Brent scheme  was undertaken in 2015, and concluded  that in terms of legal, financial  and  equitable robustness, the current scheme can be considered as a success.  There have been no legal challenges brought  against the  scheme,  and no unforeseen impact was identified.  There was no perceived appetite for radical change or a departure from the main principles governing the scheme at that time."

The report also notes that the alignment of housing benefit and the reduction scheme reduces the bureaucracy of applying, which must be welcome to many harassed residents.  However, it notes that this advantage is eroded as Universal credit is rolled out:  

"However it should be noted that as more  of the  working-age  caseload moves  onto Universal Credit (UC) over the next few years,  this advantage will be lost as claimants will be required to claim UC from the DWP and CTS from the Council."

While this may be a minor detail compared to some of the horror stories I have heard with Universal Credit, it is nonetheless regrettable.  

Finally, I have often noted that a number of people are very blase about possible legal challenges.  I think rather differently, having gone through a judicial review which was extraordinarily burdensome despite the Council being found lawful in every detail of its decision.  Nonetheless the officers writing the report give as a major reason for their "no change" recommendation "the risk opening up the scheme as a whole to challenge from external organisations and pressure groups." 

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