CSR 2010: Council Tax Benefit
Today’s CSR announced that the Government is committed to “reducing spending on Council Tax Benefits by 10 per cent and localising it, saving £490 million a year from 2013-14, while protecting the most vulnerable.” What this means is anyone’s guess. The worst case scenario is that the poorest people in the UK will be required to pay more Council Tax and that local councils will be expected to put in resources to hounding their ‘most vulnerable’ residents (the only people who qualify for CTB) into paying up. Half a billion a year from 2013/14 to the Government directly from the pockets of those who have the least – essentially a significant tax rise for those who are already on the lowest incomes.
And as well as unfair, this policy, presuming that my interpretation of it is correct, is also incoherent. Why is the Government moving towards localising the administration of a benefit that will presumably be included in a centrally administered Universal Credit?
There also appears to be recognition that this change will leave some local areas (particularly those, presumably, where lots of Housing Benefit tenants have moved to as they can’t afford to live anywhere else) with higher rates of Council Tax arreas, as the CSR also states that “Government will provide greater flexibilities to local authorities to manage pressures on council tax from the same date)”.