Council tax support scheme consultation

Shape the future of Council Tax Support

In April 2013 the government abolished Council Tax benefit and asked councils to replace it with a localised Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme. The government decides the CTS scheme rules for pensionable age customers under a national scheme.

In Barnsley over 21,000 people currently receive Council Tax Support. The cost of the scheme is £16.1m.

People can claim Council Tax Support if their income is below a certain level. Applicants receiving income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, and income-rated Employment and Support Allowance are given the maximum level of support. Others receive a level of Council Tax Support based on their income and other factors.

Each council is required to review their scheme each year and decide if they want to make any changes. Before any changes can be implemented they must carry out a public survey.

Our current working age scheme features

  • We use allowances and premiums to means test entitlement to CTS.
  • A deduction is made from your entitlement of CTS for non-dependants (over 18s) meaning that they have to contribute to your Council Tax payments.
  • We ignore the first £6,000 of your capital; however, we take a charge of £1 per £250 for anything over £6,000 to £16,000. Anyone with more than £16,000 in capital does not qualify for CTS.
  • All working age customers continue to have at least 30% of their Council Tax to pay.
  • We continue to support customers experiencing extreme hardship.

What are the proposed changes to the Council Tax Support scheme?

We're proposing the following changes from 2020:

  • Introducing an income-based ‘grid’ scheme for all working age applicants to simplify the assessment. This will replace the current means tested approach, which was based on the previous Council Tax Benefit scheme.
  • The discount is based on an income range, meaning that minor changes in income are ignored.
  • No small fluctuations in entitlement, meaning more stability in Council Tax payments.
  • Capital under £6,000 is ignored. There is no entitlement for people with more than £6,000.
  • Removing non-dependant deductions, so there is no reduction in entitlement for additional adults living with the claimant.
  • Disregarding income from Carer's Allowance and the carer element of Universal Credit, meaning the benefits being received will no longer affect entitlement for CTS.
  • Limiting the income bands inline with the amount currently allowed for a couple with two children. There will be no extra allowance for three or more children.
  • Introducing a minimum income for those who are self-employed or a company director and have been trading for above 12 months.

Those receiving certain benefits such as Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and income-related Employment and Support Allowance beyond 1 April 2020 will be better off under the proposed changes. 

Who will be affected by these proposed changes to Council Tax Support?

All working age customers will be affected. This also includes pensioners who receive working age benefits eg Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, and Universal Credit.

Under the proposed scheme a larger proportion of our existing customers will be better off.

The proposed scheme seeks to better target support to those low income households that need it the most. If the proposed scheme is approved there will be a small number of people adversely affected compared to the current scheme. Anyone adversely affected by the new scheme will be contacted directly and offered support from the council's discretionary relief scheme. We will also direct people to organisations that may be able to help you to improve your financial circumstances.

A full assessment will be undertaken to look at how this affects different groups of people in our borough. This will form part of the final report to council members. As part of the survey, we will specifically contact organisations representing protected groups.

We're consulting on the way we calculate CTS in the future

We asked you to tell us your views on the proposals for Council Tax Support from 2020. Your views are important to us and will be considered as part of the decision making process for the final scheme.

This survey closed on Sunday 27 October 2019 and you can view the results shortly.

Frequently asked questions

Will I be affected by the proposals?

Anyone who has reached State Pension age will not be affected by the proposals unless receiving a working age benefit.

You will be affected if you are of working age on or after 1 April 2020. If you are receiving a working age benefit on or after 1 April 2020 we are proposing to increase the maximum CTS that we offer and this will mean you have less Council Tax to pay under the new scheme.

If the proposed scheme is approved there will be a small number of people adversely affected compared to the current scheme. Anyone adversely affected by the new scheme will be contacted directly and offered support via the council’s discretionary relief scheme. We will also direct people to organisations that may be able to help you to improve your financial circumstances.

What is a working age benefit?

Working age benefits are:

  • Income Support;
  • contributions-based or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • contributions-based or income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Universal Credit.

How is Council Tax Support calculated?

CTS entitlement is currently calculated similarly to Housing Benefit. This is based on household income and capital along with the applicable amount specific to the household.

The more your weekly household income is above your applicable amount, the less CTS you will be entitled to.

How can I find out more about Council Tax Support?

Find out more information about Council Tax Support and how to make a claim.

Use our benefit calculator to help you decide if you are eligible to claim CTS under the current scheme.

What is a means test?

It’s the assessment of the weekly amount a household needs to live on and is made up of allowances and premiums.

Find out more about our current CTS scheme.

The proposed scheme will use an income grid which means your CTS entitlement will be based on where in the grid you fall as a result of your income and household makeup.

What is an applicable amount?

This is how much the government advise you can live on, based on your family’s circumstances and the income you receive.

How many people will be affected by the proposed change?

Under the proposed scheme a large proportion of our existing customers will be better off.

If the proposed scheme is approved there will be a small number of people adversely affected compared to the current scheme. Anyone adversely affected by the new scheme will be contacted directly and offered support via the council’s discretionary relief scheme. We will also direct people to organisations that may be able to help you to improve your financial circumstances.

Why are you doing this now?

Under the current scheme working age customers are required to pay at least 30% of their Council Tax bill, we are proposing to change the current CTS scheme to better target support to those most in need.

Additional resources

Find out more about Tax Credits.

Find out more about Universal Credit

Find out more about the State Pension age.