Agenda item

Council Tax Reduction & Exceptional Hardship Scheme for 2024/25

To receive the proposed Council Tax Reduction and Exceptional Hardship Schemes for 2024/25 and to make any comments before the schemes are put before Executive and Full Council.


The report was introduced by Councillor Leyshon, and presented by the Assistant Project Director for finance and procurement Richard Sealey.


The Council tax reduction scheme will be considered at, Executive on 6th December. There were no major changes proposed for the scheme and therefore a public consultation has not been undertaken.


The income bands had increased with inflation as with DWP uplifts state benefits. Given the significant budget gap, one of the areas of consideration was to not increase income band thresholds in line with inflation, if these were not increased this would have a net effect of the scheme costing the Council less to run. Officers were currently working on the impact of this and what this means financially, although this would impact those who are in the scheme, which could lead to increased claims for hardship, it was clarified that this change wouldn’t require public consultation.


£370k had been set aside next year for exceptional hardship. The conclusion was that the new scheme was working well and no significant areas where rules needed to be changed apart from the income bands, which could be considered as a result of the budget gap.


            During the debate the following questions and comments were raised:-


·       Recent flooding in division and the council tax payback for 150 households who were impacted by that was questioned and if this would be available in future for further similar instances.

·       This was a decision for members to make standard relief available for discounts/exemptions for those who have flooded.

·       Wilkins, £800k government assistance for hardship was a one-off sum of money for assistance this year. £350k of the fund had been utilised. £500k remained in the scheme, there remained ongoing activity in encouraging those people to claim the hardship scheme who were experiencing hardship with the funds required to be spent this financial year.

·       In respect of the equalities Impact Assessment members were pleased to see that the scheme scored well or neutrally across all characteristics.

·       There is a household support fund in addition to the £800k which has been under great demand which was government money made available to assist residents of Somerset.

·       Extending the exceptional hardship scheme was another option, which provided greater flexibility, it was recognised things had changed since this paper was originally written.

·       It was questioned if residents are made aware they can apply for exceptional hardship? This information is included in literature issued to customers and recovery processes. Staff were aware the scheme is available and how to signpost this information to residents. who are not aware to ensure those who need this support are aware.

·       Funding was in place for 3 years for citizens advice and 5 years for Spark to ensure the right advice is available for those who need it.

·       Members of the committee were aware that financial circumstances had changed and some future hard decisions would need to be made in respect of who is assisted.


The committee received the report with the proposed Council Tax Reduction and the Exceptional Hardship Schemes 2024/2025 and noted the updates.

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