Council tax support ‘failing to protect vulnerable’

A significant number of local council tax support schemes do not meet the official objective of protecting vulnerable people, according to a report by a committee of MPs. The report calls on the government to assess the impacts of localising council tax support.

Key points

  • A significant number of local schemes currently do not meet all of the objectives set for them by the Department for Communities and Local Government, particularly that of protecting vulnerable people. The Department’s response has been inconsistent, sometimes intervening with extra funding and sometimes not.
  • Some local authorities have introduced council tax support schemes in a way that runs counter to broader benefits reforms intended to 'make work pay'.
  • The Department’s information about the impact of schemes on vulnerable groups is 'patchy', and it does not fully understand the impact on the demand for local services of localising council tax support and broader benefits reforms.
  • The Department does not yet have firm plans in place with the Department for Work and Pensions to share data between universal credit and council tax support schemes.

Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee, said: 'When the scheme was introduced, local authorities were... tasked with protecting vulnerable people such as poorer families, despite the fact that savings had to be made. However, many local authorities have passed on some or all of their reduction in funding for council tax support to local claimants by reducing entitlement to support. Around 230 local authorities introduced schemes which required claimants to pay minimum council tax payments. Of these, 133 local authorities offered no protection to vulnerable groups'.

SourceCouncil Tax Support, Forty-eighth Report (Session 2013-14), HC 943, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, TSO
LinksReport | Committee press release | Citizens Advice press release | Inside Housing report | Public Finance report

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Publication date: 
Mar 11 2014