12% Local Council Tax Support Scheme to be retained

Published Tuesday, 10th December 2019

Councillors in Hartlepool have voted to maintain the level of support provided to low income working-age households with their Council Tax bills.

Members of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee decided that the town’s Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) Scheme should remain at 12% for 2020/21.

This means that financially-disadvantaged residents will continue to only be required to make a minimum 12% contribution towards their Council Tax bills – subject to Full Council approval later this month.

The Finance and Policy Committee’s decision follows public consultation on whether the current LCTS contribution rate should be replaced by one of 14%, 16%, 18% or 20% - or some other level.

Councillors were told that of 343 responses, almost two-thirds were in favour of maintaining the LCTS scheme at 12% - a rate which has been in place for six years.

They heard that effective arrangements are in place for collecting Council Tax under the 12% scheme and maintaining the current LCTS scheme provides the Council with greater financial certainty and stability. Officers warned that if low income households were required to make a bigger contribution to their Council Tax bills – potentially generating more income for the Council - greater provision would need to be made for bad debts.

Councillor Shane Moore, Chair of the Finance and Policy Committee and Leader of the Council, said: “I think this decision strikes a good balance between keeping contributions affordable without affecting the Council’s ability to collect what is due.”

The Council’s LCTS Scheme was introduced in 2013 when Central Government scrapped national Council Tax Benefit. The Government requires that low-income pensioner households are protected and must continue to receive the same level of Local Council Tax Support as they would have done under the former national Council Tax Benefit scheme.