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Council Tax Support scheme

Help with your council tax is known as Council Tax Support

What was Council Tax Benefit?

Council Tax Benefit was a means tested benefit that helped people on low incomes pay their council tax. It was administered by your local council (Boston Borough Council) using rules that were set nationally and was previously fully funded by central government.

When did it change?

From 1 April 2013. From this date, it is now known as Council Tax Support

What is Council Tax Support?

Council Tax Support is also a means tested discount that helps people on low incomes pay their council tax. It is administered by your local council using rules that have been set locally however it is not fully funded by central government.

Why did the scheme change?

Because it had to. Central government  abolished the council tax benefits system and asked us to introduce a local scheme based on local needs and priorities. This scheme started on 1 April 2013. The amount of funding we now get from central government has changed. The funding gap will increase further if the number of people claiming support goes up or if council tax increases.

The reduction in funding means that we have to make some difficult decisions about who will get help with paying their council tax and how much help they will get. Some groups of people have been protected from these changes and will not have to pay more, but others do.

In designing the new scheme, Boston Borough Council consulted on the proposed scheme with those affected over an eight week period. The scheme was formally adopted by the council on 24 January 2013. Each year it is reviewed and a new scheme is set by 31st January to start from 1st April.

Customers may want to know how much help they will be able to get under the new scheme. Our online calculator provides details of the allowances they would receive under the new scheme.

THE NEW SCHEME

The new scheme has taken forward principles from the previous council tax benefit system. These principles are:

· Benefits should not be paid to those with capital above set limits

If you have more than £16,000 you will not be entitled to receive any council tax support, irrespective of the amount of income you have.

· Benefits can be paid based on the income of a second adult with a low income,

By second adult, we mean somebody who lives with you and is over 18, is not your partner and does not pay you rent. If the second adult is on a low income we can award council tax support based on their income regardless of the level of your own income.

From 1st April 2016 this has been restricted to those of Pension Age and those in receipt of a War Pension.

· Those with relatively more income should pay more than those with less income

Council tax support looks at the amount of income you have and determines the amount of help you need with your bill. Those with higher incomes will be asked to pay a greater proportion of their bill than those with lower incomes.

From April 2013, a series of new principles were also introduced. The new principles are as follows;

· Most people (of working age) should pay something towards their council tax

If you claim council tax support (unless you are protected) you will have an entitlement of 75%. This means you will be required to pay a contribution towards your weekly council tax of at least 25% and are likely to see the amount of council tax support you get go down.

· Pensioners are protected from any reduction in support

If you claim council tax support and are a pensioner, you are eligible to up to 100% help towards your weekly council tax charge. This means it is unlikely you will be asked to make any more of a contribution towards your weekly council tax than you do at the moment and are likely to see no change in the amount of council tax support you receive.

· War pensioners (that are working age) are protected from any reduction in support

If you claim council tax support and are in receipt of a war disability or a war widow's pension, you are eligible to up to 100% help towards your weekly council tax charge. This means you will not be asked to make any more of a contribution towards your weekly council tax than you do at the moment and are likely to see no change in the amount of council tax support you receive.

· The scheme should make work pay

This is achieved by letting those of you claiming council tax support that are working keep more of your earnings before the means test is applied. This means we will take a lower level of earnings into account when calculating council tax support entitlement. If you are in work and have the same amount of income as someone out of work, you will receive more help towards paying your council tax as you will keep more of the money you have earned from working before your entitlement is reduced.

· The scheme is available to all those who pay council tax regardless of the size of property that they live in

We think the amount of council tax support you get should be based on your income and ability to pay, not on the size of the property you live in. Up until 31st March 2016 no matter what band your property fell in the Council Tax Support would be calculated against the full liability for that Band. From 1st April 2016, those claiming Council Tax Support that are of working age will have their band award restricted to that of a maximum of a band D.

The rules

The council tax support scheme is based on rules set locally. You can view our scheme rules. A link to the scheme rules can be found at the bottom of this page.

Council Tax Support - How to appeal a decision

Changes to the appeal process from 1 April 2013

Council Tax Support is not a benefit. Council Tax Support is a reduction made to a council tax account by issuing you a discount. Because of this the appeals process differs slightly to that which was in place for council tax benefit.

If you disagree with a decision about your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, you can:

Ask us to explain the decision in more detail

You can ask us to explain the decision in more detail. You can do this either by telephone or in writing. An explanation will be sent to you. This will not be treated as a reconsideration or an appeal.

Ask us to look at your Council Tax Support again and reconsider it

If you get a decision in writing from us about Council Tax Support, and you do not agree with the decision that has been made, you or a person acting on behalf need to write to us at the address at the top of the leaflet advising that you are aggrieved by the decision.

You must say why you think the decision is wrong. It is not enough to say ''I do not agree with the decision'' or ''The money is not enough''. The reason you give should provide specific details. If you are aggrieved by more than one decision, you must say why you do not agree with each one. You can do this by writing to the following address:

Boston Borough Council
(Council Tax Support Appeal)
Municipal Buildings
West Street
Boston
Lincolnshire
PE21 8QR

Time limit

This should be done as quickly as possible after we have made our decision. We will look at our decision again, and we must do this within 2 months of receiving your written notification.

If the decision can be changed:

If the decision cannot be changed:

If you make an appeal to the council and the council fail to respond, you will be able to appeal to the Council Tax Valuation Tribunal Service in accordance with the Council Tax Appeals Regulations.

What to do if you do not agree with our decision

If you do not agree with the original decision or the outcome of the reconsideration by the Council, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service.

You can only make an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service after you have asked the Council for a reconsideration.

Time limit

You have a maximum of 4 months to apply to the Valuation Tribunal Service. The 4 months start from the date you first wrote to the Local Authority to advise you were aggrieved by the decision.

How to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service

There are various ways you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service - you can:

Write to the Valuation Tribunal Service:

You can write directly to the Valuation Tribunal Service at the following address:

Council tax reduction team

Hepworth House
2 Trafford Court
Doncaster
Yorks
DN1 1PN

Email: appeals@vts.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: 0300 123 2035

Are there any matters that cannot be subject of an appeal?

Yes there are.

The following specific matters cannot be the subject of an appeal under these provisions:

Advice

For independent advice or help with your appeal, you might want to contact an advice agency or organisation such as Boston's Citizens Advice Bureau on 01205 315915 or a solicitor.

Boston Borough Council will not pay any legal fees or travelling expenses relating to the appeal.

More information

For more information, please see our frequently asked questions. A link to our frequently asked questions can be found at the bottom of this page, or you can get in touch with us via the telephone by calling 01205 314202.

Related documents

Size Name
[83kb] Council Tax Support - Frequently Asked Questions FAQS
[296kb] Council Tax Support - Reconsideration and Appeals Leaflet Reconsideration and Appeals
[1Mb] Council Tax Support Regulations 2017-18 Council Tax Support Regulations 2017-18

The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.