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Council Tax reductions continue to help the most vulnerable

1 December 2017

A scheme that reduces the amount of Council Tax paid by the most vulnerable people in South Lakeland will continue in 2018/19.

A meeting of our Cabinet recommended continuation of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme that has been in place since 2013.

Our scheme offers up to a 100% reduction for all eligible residents, supporting people on benefits or low incomes. Last year it helped 5,020 households across the district, many of them pensioners.

Welcoming continuation of the scheme our Leader, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: ”I am very proud to be part of a caring council that is working hard to help tackle the scourge of poverty. We are right to be embarrassed at the extent of child poverty, fuel poverty and the fact that families are turning to local foodbanks for help.

“We all share the concern that poverty is getting worse and I am very pleased to be able to propose the continuation of a policy which in some way helps the most vulnerable in our society.

“We don’t have to maintain the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme at the level we do, but these reductions make a real difference to many people on low incomes.    

“This council is working with key partners on a new strategy to reduce poverty and build financial resilience. Schemes like this play their part in helping to ease financial suffering and hardship.”   

The recommendation to continue the scheme will now go to a meeting of our Full Council for approval on 19 December.  

The reductions under the scheme were worth almost £4.9 million in 2016/17.

The scheme was introduced as a replacement for the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme, which was abolished in 2013. The old national scheme was paid for by a 100% grant from central government, but this was reduced to 90% when responsibility for the grant was passed to local authorities.

We have met this 10% grant reduction to be able to continue offering the benefits from the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme by making a number of adjustments to our Council Tax discounts.

This has included reducing the Council Tax discount on second homes from 10% to 0%, introducing a 100% Council Tax on properties left unoccupied for more than six months and introducing a 50% Council Tax premium on properties left empty for more than two years.

The 50% premium on empty properties has also had the added benefit of encouraging owners to bring long-term empty properties back into use and has led to an overall reduction in the number of homes in the district that remain vacant for long periods.