EXTRA support to help Middlesbrough residents who struggle to pay their council tax is being proposed.
The policy is part of a number of measures, also aimed at increasing local collection rates which have fallen following the Government’s slashing of funding for council tax benefits in April 2013.
As a result of national policy, since that date thousands of people in Middlesbrough, on the lowest incomes and least able to pay, were required to pay Council Tax for the first time and thousands more, many from working households, have had to pay an increased amount.
Middlesbrough Council already provides support to those most in need through the Local Council Tax Support Scheme which can help people with up to 80% of their bill.
The new proposals would see a consultation on whether that figure should remain the same or increase up to 82.5% or 85%, without affecting the amount paid by other local council taxpayers.
Alongside the additional help is a further proposal to increase the level of staffing in Revenue Services for the rest of this financial year to increase collection rates.
Prior to 2013 Middlesbrough Council consistently had in-year collection rates around 96%. However by 2016-17 that had fallen to 92.5%.
The in-year collection rate – the figure collected by Government for statistical purposes – reflects the amount received during the year in question, but collection does continue into subsequent years.
The overall collection rate which has the most direct impact on budgetary assumptions is substantially higher at more than 97%.
And despite the reduction in collection rates, the actual cash amount collected has risen owing to the additional homes that have been built in the town generating an additional £4m-a-year in Council Tax for the people of Middlesbrough
Cllr Nicky Walker, Executive Member for Finance and Governance, said: “The changes in 2013 remain a grossly unfair Conservative Government policy which hits disproportionately those who have the least ability to pay.
“That is borne out by collection rate tables in which affluent areas such as Wokingham in the leafy suburbs of the South East have high collection rates whereas places with high levels of deprivation such as Middlesbrough have lower collection rates.
“The proposed measures are aimed at redressing some of the imbalances both to help those who struggle to pay but also to improve the amount collected in the interest of all local taxpayers who rely on vital public services.”
- The proposals will be decided on at a meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive on Tuesday, July 11.