City of Wolverhampton Council is asking residents to have their say on proposals to change council tax support.

The proposals only affect working age customers - people receiving a state pension are not affected.

Council tax support provides financial assistance for people on a low income to help them to pay their council tax.

The support has historically been calculated at the same time as housing benefit which was administered by the council.

However, an increasing number of people are moving across to the new Universal Credit (UC), which replaces housing benefit and is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions.

UC works differently to other benefits because the amount paid can vary each month.

This monthly change in the amount of UC would mean the level of council tax support would also go up or down accordingly.

Soon it is expected that almost everyone receiving council tax support will also be on UC and the constant level of changing payments could create a confusing situation where a new council tax bill was sent out every month.

This would not only cause confusion to bill payers, but would also be complex and expensive to administer.

The council is therefore consulting on proposed changes which would keep the number of adjusted bills down for most people.

It is proposed that the council would not alter council tax bills if the amount of UC changes by £3 or less per week. If nothing else changes, the council would wait until it calculates council tax support for the following year to apply any change.

The other proposed change would see the council use the same information when calculating council tax support that has been used to calculate UC, making it easier for customers to get their correct entitlement without constantly having to provide proof of earnings and other income to the council.

Councillor Louise Miles, City of Wolverhampton Council's cabinet member for resources, said: "Central Government has introduced Universal Credit which is fully automated and means people can get a different payment each month based on, for example, the hours they work. This means the way we calculate council tax support for those people also needs to change, but we don't want to create a confusing bureaucracy where we send out a new council tax bill every month.

"We are therefore proposing a sensible solution for most people where bills would not change each month if the amount of UC change was £3 or below. We would only change bills at the start of a new tax year.

"Our online consultation explains it all in detail with examples of the impact of the changes and invites people to tell us what they think. I would urge people to take part and have their say."

The consultation is open until 19 November. The easiest way to complete the short confidential survey is online via Type=links;Linkid=11002;Title=Council Tax Consultation;Target=_blank;.

Anyone wanting a paper copy of the survey can call 01902 551166.

  • released: Monday 17 September, 2018