Wealden District Council

Changes to Local Council Tax Support funding

The Government has made changes to funding to help eligible households with Council Tax payments which affect the setting of parish and town council precepts for 2013/14.

From 1 April 2013 the Government will end Council Tax Benefit. It will be replaced by a Local Council Tax Support scheme which, in county areas, will be decided by the district council in consultation with the major preceptors. The district council will receive 10% less funding from government for helping eligible households with council tax payments which will be paid in the form of a grant.

The implication for parish and town councils setting their Council Tax precept for 2013/14 is that their Council Tax base will be very likely to change as shown in an example illustrating the change in precept calculation.

Wealden District Council has calculated what we believe to be the likely revised Council Tax Bases for all town and parish councils when the new Council Tax Support Scheme comes into effect. This will allow parish and town councils to continue to work on a provisional precept figure until the position is finalised. The provisional Council Tax Bases are set out in a linked table (pdf) which also details the grant payable to each parish and town to make up any shortfall for 2013/14. Also a draft Council Tax calculation report (pdf) on the Council Tax Base for 2013/14 provides more detail on how the Council Tax Base for each parish and town is calculated.

In making these calculations, we have taken account of the likely effects of the new Council Tax Support Scheme, proposed changes to Council Tax Discounts and the number of new properties we understand are realistically on track to be completed in the near future. This has given us us a figure for the change for each town or parish and what proportion this represents of the total change. We will then use the transitional support grant to make up the difference and we are pleased that, on this basis, no town or parish should suffer any significant loss this year.

We must emphasise that the calculated figures are still subject to change depending on the detail of the Local Government Finance Settlement due on or around 19th December. 
 
The Wealden District Association of Local Councils Management Committee has met with and supports Wealden District Council's approach in distributing the transitional grant to minimise the impact of the changes, for 2013/14 at least. 

It should be noted that the Secretary of State may decide to apply a trigger for a possible local referendum if an increase in precepts is more than 2%. This has yet to be announced.

The reason for this change is that, whereas Council Tax Benefit was previously credited to the claimant's Council Tax account as a cash amount, from 1 April 2013 eligible people will instead receive a discount on their Council Tax. These discounts reduce the Council Tax base. The Government has decided that town and parish Council Tax bases should be reduced for these discounts. This means that most towns and parishes will need to consider whether they make savings or increase Council Tax to get the same level of money in. The amount of money town and parishes ask for from Council Tax is known as their precept.

Unfortunately the finance settlement is not expected until 19 December 2012 so we cannot give final figures for the amounts of money each town and parish will receive for Council Tax support until after this date. In the interim, town and parish councils can continue work on their budgets but we advise them not to set a precept until Wealden District Council is able to provide firm funding allocations.

How can I find out more?

We have provided answers to some key questions (FAQs).

The DCLG website has the Government's response to 2013/14 Council Tax consultation (external link) as well as its consultation on funding arrangements for localising support for Council Tax (pdf).

The Society of Local Council Clerks website has information on the Government's changes to Council Tax support (external link).

You may also wish to refer to the report report to Wealden's Cabinet in June on preparations for localised Council Tax Support (pdf) as well as the Government's Statement of Intent (pdf)

 

For any other queries in the first instance please contact:

Malcolm Harris Tel: 01323 443744 performance.management@wealden.gov.uk

Gill Cameron-Waller Tel: 01323 443745 gill.cameron-waller@wealden.gov.uk