- Council Tax
- Benefits and financial support
In 2013 the government abolished Council Tax Benefit and asked local councils to introduce their own scheme for working age residents who need help paying their Council Tax. This became known as Council Tax Support.
The government passed on the funding but with a significant cut. The current Lambeth scheme protects and supports 24,000 households each year however the Council recognises the financial challenges faced by Lambeth residents due to Covid-19 and the rises in Council Tax costs and wishes to offer a more generous Council Tax Support scheme for 2022-23 to support residents financially.
If we want to make changes to our Council Tax support scheme we must, by law, ask you about it. We want you to tell us what you think about these options to enable us to create a local Council Tax scheme that takes your views into account.
Each of these options would be expected to increase the amount of support paid to residents in certain circumstances.
Please note none of the options listed below will affect anyone of pensionable age, who are awarded Council Tax Support based on national eligibility criteria, in general this is more generous than the Lambeth working age scheme.
We recommend you follow the link to our Frequently Asked Questions for a full explanation of some of the terms we use.
The options to be consulted upon are:
- Option 1 - removing the 20% liability reduction.
If you are not in a protected group, you must pay a certain amount of Council Tax. The maximum Council Tax Support you can receive is 80% of your Council Tax liability. This is your liability reduction.
This option would remove the liability reduction, making it possible to pay Council Tax Support of up to 100% of the liability for all residents, not just those in protected groups. This option would support all residents, particularly those on means-tested welfare benefits.
- Option 2 - removing the £5 minimum weekly payment.
At the moment the minimum weekly Council Tax Support payment is £5. This means that if an income assessment shows you are entitled to less than £5 per week, you will not receive any Council Tax Support.
This option would remove the minimum weekly payment so people currently not receiving any Council Tax Support could receive some help to pay their Council Tax. This option will support those often referred to as ‘just about managing’.
- Option 3 - removing mandatory minimum non-dependant deductions based on the circumstance of the householder.
This year, the amount of Council Tax Support you receive is less if you have a non-dependant living with you. At present, all non-dependants are expected to make a contribution to a household. With this option, non-dependants living in households where the claimant or their partner receive disability benefits or are blind, would no longer be expected to make a contribution. This recognises that the householder is likely to require additional support, provided by the non-dependant. This change would bring our scheme in line with housing benefit regulations.
- Option 4 - removing mandatory minimum non-dependant deductions based on the circumstance of the non-dependant.
If you have a non-dependant living with you, the amount of Council Tax Support you receive will be less, because all non-dependants are expected to make a contribution to a household.
With this option, some non-dependants, such as students or those under 25 on welfare benefits would not be expected to make a contribution. The currently expected contribution is up to 10% of their income - income that has not been calculated to be spent on Council Tax, so could cause hardship. This change would bring our scheme in line with housing benefit regulations.
- Option 5 - reducing the excess income taper to 20% from 25%.
Council Tax Support is a means tested benefit. This means we compare your income with the amount the government says a person in your circumstances needs to live on. If your income is higher than this, you are expected to use some of the extra (also known as ‘excess income’) to pay towards your Council Tax. This is called a ‘taper’. Currently, you are expected to pay 25% of the money you have over the government figure towards your Council Tax. In Option 5 this would change to 20%, increasing the amount of your income you get to keep. This option supports those termed as ‘just about managing’ and supports making work pay.
We have also produced case studies which give examples of how the changes could affect people.
If you don’t have access to the internet, more information about these changes and a paper questionnaire are available from our customer contact centres on 0345 302 2312.
What happens after consultation closes
All the comments and suggestions we receive will be analysed and considered to enable us to reach a decision about how the Council Tax Support Scheme should work from 1 April 2022.
The findings of the consultation will be presented to Lambeth Councillors where final decisions will be made. They will help us design a new scheme that takes into consideration the views of all those who respond to this consultation.
We will produce a consultation report which we can send to you, once complete, if you provide us with your email address when submitting your comments.
We will make a final decision before 31 December 2021 and our new scheme will be introduced on 1 April 2022.