Flexibility to change to scheme
At present, Full Council agree the scheme before the start of each financial year. We cannot then change it until the next financial year.
However, as 2020 has shown, unexpected events do occur. Therefore, we would like the flexibility to change the scheme during a financial year. This will help us respond to unexpected changes in the wider welfare benefit system.
For example, in 2020/21 the government increased the amount of Universal Credit (UC) it pays by £20 per week. Normally, a £20 increase in income would reduce the amount of housing benefit and council tax people could receive. Housing benefit would reduce by £13 per week and Council Tax support by £2.99 per week. This would mean that people would only receive £4.01 of the £20 increase.
The government has the option to introduce an “additional earnings disregard” of £20 per week in housing benefit. This ensures that UC recipients receive all of the additional £20 per week Universal Credit increase. We have to change our Council Tax Support Scheme to achieve the same effect, and we don't want to wait until the next financial year to do so.
Proposed changes to the scheme
We would like to insert the following wording within the scheme:
“In the event of unexpected changes to government welfare benefit regulations which are intended to:
- increase the income of benefit recipients; and,
- which are introduced during a financial year;
Chelmsford City Council reserves the right to amend the provisions of its Local Council Tax Support Scheme to ensure that those changes do not negatively impact the entitlements of working age recipients of Council Tax Support.”