Step forward for proposals which could see low income households lifted out of Council Tax
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council proposals which could see the Borough's lowest-income households pay no Council Tax next year are a step closer to being approved.
Around 11,680 working age people in the Borough currently receive up to 80 per cent Council Tax discount under the Council's Local Council Tax Support Scheme.
In June, the Council agreed to go out to consultation on proposals to make a number of changes to the scheme, including one to lift the maximum discount from 80 per cent to 100 per cent for those on the lowest incomes.
The move would also bring in a new, simpler scheme which would see applicants placed into one of four discount bands depending on their family circumstances and household income.
The new scheme was agreed by members of the Council's Cabinet yesterday (November 18) and will now go to a full Council meeting on November 24 for final consideration.
Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: "The numbers of people claiming Council Tax support has increased since the beginning of the pandemic - and this includes many low-income households with working people who are trying their best to balance their finances and household bills.
"We're doing all we can to help those most in need, and this proposed scheme will see 7,400 low-income households across the Borough lifted out of paying Council Tax. It is also easier to understand, with an easier application process.
"But we are, as ever, trying to strike a fair balance and we have listened carefully to the responses to the consultation. This is why we have changed the savings threshold so that households with savings under £10,000 can still be eligible for support.
"If approved, we will contact anyone adversely affected by the new scheme to offer support. There will also be an exceptional hardship scheme for those who are struggling to pay, and this will be based on income and essential outgoings.
"The proposed changes do not affect pensioners. The current Council Tax support scheme for pensioners already includes a maximum 100% discount and is set by the Government so councils have no say over it."
The proposals will be considered by full Council next week. If agreed the new Local Council Tax Support Scheme will be introduced in April 2022.