In line with other local authorities, Wiltshire reviews its scheme for working age households regularly, and would like views on a number of options to help provide a simplified scheme specifically for those in receipt of Universal Credit.
The current Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme is a means tested benefit for working-aged people, which currently supports 14,400 working-age households. A separate national scheme operated by the council supports a further 10,600 pensioner households through a reduction in their council tax.
The changes are being proposed because of the introduction of Full Service Universal Credit to Wiltshire. An award of Universal Credit often changes every month. Under our current scheme, whenever someone's Universal Credit award changes by an amount that affects their CTR by more than £1, their CTR award will also be reassessed.
We are proposing that the amount of CTR that a working age household in receipt of Universal Credit receives will no longer be subject to a complex, means test calculation. Instead, we will look at the total net income the household possesses and place the household into an income band. The band will determine the amount of CTR to be deducted from the bill. Any changes will only affect working age households on Universal Credit, as those of state pension credit age have their scheme set by government.
Philip Whitehead, Conservative Wiltshire Council leader and Cabinet Member for Finance said: "We are asking people to give us their views to help us shape a system that continues to provide fair support. We want to reduce the risk of having to frequently adjust entitlement to a household's Council Tax Reduction as a result of minor changes in income, an issue which is commonly faced by those on Universal Credit.
"We hope to reduce uncertainty for those on this scheme and in doing so minimise the cost of administration. Once we have received public feedback, we can then make a decision on how we deliver the scheme next year."
Take the consultation, which is open until 11 November 2019.