Boost for low income families if Devon tax support scheme wins approval

PUBLISHED: 16:18 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:18 19 September 2019

Picture: Getty Images

Picture: Getty Images

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Low income families in East Devon could benefit by an estimated £270,000 in extra support towards paying their council tax in a new scheme.

East Devon District Council's cabinet has given the green light to consult on a draft Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which will be consulted on from today (Thursday).

The initiative proposes to increase the amount of council tax support for low income working age households. Pensioners will not be affected by the proposals.

Under the current scheme, low income working age households receive a council tax reduction which involves a lengthy means test with complex legislation.

The council is looking to significantly simplify the reduction scheme by putting more money into the current system and introducing 'Income Banded' discounts.

This means that council tax discounts of 85 per cent, 70 per cent, 50 per cent and 25 per cent would be awarded depending on a claimant and partner's weekly income and the number of dependants living in the household.

Under the proposed draft scheme, 92 per cent of claimants - around 3,000 households - many of whom are families adversely affected by recent welfare reforms, would be better off.

Cllr Ian Thomas, the district council's portfolio holder for finance, said: "East Devon is among just a handful of councils nationally which is proposing to increase support for low income families to help them pay their council tax."

The draft scheme is more compatible with Universal Credit which is a means-tested benefit for households who are on a low income.

Universal Credit full-service, which was introduced in East Devon in July 2018, replaced six benefits including housing benefit, income support and income based jobseeker's allowance.

The consultation will be sent to key stakeholders including the Citizens Advice Bureau and is open for comment from today at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/ctr-consultation

Those needing a paper copy of this consultation, or a copy in any other format, including large print should email benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk or contact our customer services team on 01404 515616.

Following the consultation, there will be a detailed review of the draft scheme taking into account the comments received.

The final scheme will be brought back to the district council's cabinet in January 2020. If agreed by the council, the new scheme will be introduced from April 2020.

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