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Reforming Council Tax Benefit

Stuart Adam and James Browne

Council Tax Benefit provides support to 5.9 million low-income families, more than any other means-tested benefit or tax credit in the UK. The government is proposing to localise support for council tax from 2013–14, abolishing Council Tax Benefit across Britain and giving grants to local authorities in England and to the Scottish and Welsh governments to design their own systems for providing support for council tax to low-income families. On top of this, the government is planning to cut funding for council tax support by 10 per cent.

This Commentary examines issues such as:

  • the likely effects of localising the system of support for council tax;
  • the distribution of funding cuts across the country;
  • options for local authorities to make savings in the new systems of support for council tax that they adopt;
  • how the reformed system of council tax support could be designed to work alongside the government’s proposed introduction of Universal Credit.

This report will be of interest to local authorities charged with designing new council tax rebates, to claimants wishing to understand the reforms and how they might be affected, and to policymakers, the media and wider civil society looking to assess the likely effects and merits of the reforms.

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Council tax benefit (CTB) was abolished in April 2013 and local authorities in England were charged with designing their own council tax support (CTS) schemes in its place. This report analyses the CTS schemes that local authorities adopted in the first year of the new policy.
In a ministerial statement last week the government announced a significant change to its policy to localise Council Tax Benefit (CTB) from next April. In this observation we ask why such a significant change has been announced to a policy two years after it was first announced, less than six ...
Press release
Government plans to localise the help that low-income families receive with their council tax while cutting funding for it by 10% leave local councils with a tough challenge to design replacement schemes, according to a new report by IFS researchers.