Move to make council tax discounts fairer in Richmondshire

The most needy residents of Richmondshire look set to benefit from changes to the council tax discounts system, while people with more than £6,000 in savings are likely to be excluded from the relief.

It is thought numerous working-age families in Richmondshire will be better off if the district council’s corporate board pushes ahead with proposals designed to make the distribution of council tax fairer and ensure that those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest weight.

A change in government policy in 2013 saw working age residents in need offered up to a 91.5 per cent council tax discount, but in 2016 the then Tory-led Richmondshire authority increased the minimum level of payment to 15 per cent.

Some councils across North Yorkshire and beyond have recently introduced a system based on household make-up, income and capital to determine residents’ entitlement to council tax reduction to ensure a fairer allocation.

A report to the corporate board states feedback to such changes has been mixed, it is felt that some changes in Richmondshire would result in a fairer system.

The report highlights how the current scheme assumes the earnings of all self-employed people claiming the discount is the higher of than the national minimum living wage, leading to a significant number of complaints from people customers claiming their earnings were lower.

It has been proposed the ‘income floor’ is removed and that council tax discounts be based on declared self-employed income.

In addition, currently working age people can apply for council tax discount if they have up to £16,000 capital, but to simplify the scheme and reduce the amount of evidence customers have to provide it is proposed to reduce that upper limit of capital to £6,000. The impact would be exclude customers with more than £6,000 savings from being eligible for the council tax discounts.

The corporate board has been asked to consider consulting with the public on the proposals over the next two months, with any changes taking effect from April next year.

The proposal follows district councillors approving the maximum rise in the authority’s share of council tax they were allowed to earlier this year – a £5 rise to £220 for an average Band D property.

The average Band D property will pay a total council bill of £1,955 for the 2020/21 year.

However, in May it was announced more than 1,292 working age Richmondshire residents had been awarded a £150 council tax hardship fund payment as part of a range of Covid-19 economic measures.

The following month the authority announced it would issue reminders to taxpayers who had failed to pay the required instalments from April to June as restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic were being eased.

1 Comment

  1. It looks like a stealth tax on the people that have worked hard and have some savings.
    Paying over £2000 per year,to get the bins emptied.

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