Government changes to Council Tax Benefit and Council Tax discounts and exemptions
The Council Tax Benefit scheme has been replaced by the Council Tax Support scheme in Dover. The new scheme came into place on 1 April 2013.
The government has abolished the national Council Tax Benefit scheme and asked councils to introduce a local Council Tax Support scheme to replace it. Every council has their own local Council Tax Support scheme with its own eligibility criteria.
There is less funding from the government under the new scheme and the council now has to work within a budget that has been reduced by approximately 10-15%. For Dover this means a reduction of approximately £1.5 million.
This reduction in funding means we have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial support and how much.
The government said that all pension age Council Tax Benefit recipients must be fully protected from the changes. The reductions to benefit therefore only affect working age people.
The government also announced changes to the main Council Tax system from April 2013. From this date councils are able to change Council Tax discounts and exemptions given to certain properties. These changes mainly affect empty properties and 'second homes'. There have been no changes made to any other Council Tax discount or exemption, including single person discount.
Council Tax Support scheme from April 2013
Our Council Tax Support scheme came into effect on 1 April 2013. As part of the scheme we have removed some Council Tax discounts and exemptions in order to reduce the financial impact on benefit claimants. There is, however, a reduction in help for working age Council Tax Benefit claimants and they will have to pay more Council Tax than they have before.
Council Tax Support is a Council Tax discount, it is not a benefit. Details of what has changed under our Council Tax Support scheme are given below.
Changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions from April 2013
The following changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions came in from April 2013:
Council Tax discount for 'second homes' has been removed
The 10% Council Tax discount for 'second home' owners has been removed. Owners of 'second homes' can no longer get a discount on their Council Tax and have to pay 100% of the Council Tax bill.
Council Tax exemption for empty and unfurnished properties has been removed
The 100% Council Tax exemption for empty and unfurnished properties has been removed. Owners of empty properties that are not undergoing major structural repairs can no longer receive a six month exemption and have to pay 100% of the Council Tax bill when properties are empty and unoccupied.
Landlords have to pay 100% Council Tax when their properties are empty between tenancies.
Please note from 1 April 2013 the Council Tax exemption for properties undergoing major structural repair was replaced with a locally agreed Council Tax discount. Properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished and require or are undergoing structural alterations or major repair works to make them habitable can get a 100% discount on their Council Tax bill for up to 12 months.
Changes to Council Tax Benefit from April 2013
The following changes to Council Tax Benefit came in from April 2013:
Council Tax Benefit
Working age claimants receiving Council Tax Benefit on 31 March 2013 were transferred to the Council Tax Support scheme on 1 April 2013.
Council Tax Support is worked out under the Council Tax Benefit rules but working age claimants have their support reduced by 6%.
Second Adult Rebate
Second Adult Rebate has been stopped for working age claimants.
Pension age customers
Pension age claimants are not affected by the changes. We do not make a 6% reduction for pension age applicants.
Please note, if you are of pension age and you are in receipt of a working age benefit, for example Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (Income Based) or Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related), you will be treated as a working age applicant and we will make a 6% reduction from your overall Council Tax Support entitlement.
How will I know how much Council Tax I have to pay?
All Council Tax Benefit recipients were sent a notification in March to show how much Council Tax Support they would get from April 2013.
Council Tax bills were also sent in March and show how much Council Tax is due to be paid for the financial year 2013-14. The amount of Council Tax to be paid as shown on the bill includes any Council Tax Support and any other Council Tax discount that has been given.
How do I apply for Council Tax Support?
You need to fill in a Council Tax Support application form and provide proof to support your application.
Please see the Council Tax Support page for more information about how to apply for Council Tax Support.
Council Tax Support scheme documents
Other Council Tax reductions
You can find information about other Council Tax reductions that may be available to you on the Council Tax pages.
Changes to benefits
The government has proposed some other major changes to benefits. Please see the Welfare Reform pages for more information.