Localisation of Council Tax Benefit

Meeting: 
MQT on 2014-02-26
Session date: 
February 26, 2014
Reference: 
2014/1085
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Are you still concerned about the impact of localisation of Council Tax benefit on low income households in London, and the tight table for implementation of this by April 2014?

Answer

Answer for Localisation of Council Tax Benefit

Answer for Localisation of Council Tax Benefit

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Council tax benefit - now council tax support - was localised in April 2013 and the new system has therefore been up and running now for nearly twelve months.

This change was introduced alongside new powers which allow local authorities to reduce or remove entirely the previous exemptions and discounts for second and empty homes - as well as the ability to apply a 50 per cent premium to long term empty properties. The additional revenues from these sources was able to be used to mitigate the impact of council tax support localisation on low income households.

Seven London billing authorities - the Corporation of London, RB Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Merton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster - have not reduced the level of council tax support provided to low income households. Low income households in those boroughs have therefore seen no change to their bills - which I welcome.

Indeed the majority of boroughs have limited the level of council tax payable to 8.5 per cent or less of the bill - with the remainder generally providing protection for the most vulnerable groups. The GLA is however monitoring the implementation of the changes and has engaged with the consultations each billing authority has undertaken to develop their schemes. Ultimately however it is for each individual borough to determine their council tax support scheme having regard to local circumstances.

I am of course committed to keeping the level of council tax as low as possible for all Londoners. This is why I have reduced my precept by more than 24 per cent in real terms since I was elected in 2008 and have cut the precept for the last three years.