Consideration was given to a report of the Director of Finance which presented to Cabinet the proposed Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2023/24 prior to its consideration by full Council on 1 March 2023.
There is a requirement to have a local Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme to support residents of working age on a low income who qualify for assistance in paying Council Tax. The Local Government Finance Act 2012 places a requirement that each year a Billing Authority must consider whether to revise its Council Tax Reduction scheme or to replace it with another scheme. Any change to the 2023/24 scheme must be agreed by full Council in line with budget setting and no later than 10 March 2023. For Oldham, this required the Council to agree a revised 2023/24 scheme at the 1 March 2023 Council meeting. Any proposed change must be subject to prior consultation with the major preceptors (for Oldham this is the Greater Manchester Combined Authority), and with the public.
The scheme for those of pensionable age was set by the Government and cannot be changed.
A major consultation exercise has not been undertaken regarding changes to the CTR scheme and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been provisionally advised that no change to the scheme was proposed.
In this regard, the proposal that the CTR scheme for 2023/24 remained the same as that operating in 2022/23 was presented to the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26 January 2023 as part of the suite of documents that presented the proposed revenue, capital and Housing Revenue Account budgets for 2023/24. After scrutinising the proposal, the Select
Committee was content to accept the proposed approach to the 2023/24 CTR scheme and commend this to Cabinet.
In taking this decision, the Select Committee was aware that the Council has provided further relief to CTR claimants via the Household Support Fund, its response to the Cost of Living Crisis, together with other initiatives funded from Council resources. In addition, announced within the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement on 19 December 2022 was a new Council Tax Support Fund of £100m nationally for 2023/24. The Government expected Local Authorities to use the majority of their funding allocations to reduce bills for current working age and pension age Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) claimants by up to £25. Councils can use their remaining allocation as they see fit to support vulnerable households with Council Tax bills and a local scheme would be prepared to ensure the maximum benefit to Oldham residents. On 23 December 2022 it was announced that Oldham’s allocation for this ringfenced grant is £0.573m.
Another important factor when considering a change to the CTR scheme was that the full roll out of Universal Credit (UC) was not yet completed and this added further uncertainty when assessing the likely impact of changes to CTR relief.
The Government had recently delayed the full UC roll out to 2028, but as Oldham was a pilot Authority for the scheme, ... view the full minutes text for item 9