Up to 8,000 low income households could pay no Council Tax at all next year under new proposals from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.
Around 12,400 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.
But the Council is proposing to consult on changes to the scheme which, if agreed, would lift the maximum discount from 80 per cent to 100 per cent.
The proposed changes – which do not affect pensioners – will be considered by members of the Council’s Cabinet when they meet tomorrow (June 24).
“We’re doing all we can to help those worst affected by the pandemic and this is about helping those who can’t pay their Council Tax,” said the Council’s Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
“The Borough has been hit hard. The number of working age people claiming Council Tax reduction went up from 11,400 to 12,600 between March and July last year and has now stabilised at around 12,400.
“What we are proposing is a much simpler scheme, with an easy application process that’s also easy to understand. Under the proposed new scheme, applicants would be placed into one of four bands depending on their household income.
“Those on the lowest incomes would pay no Council Tax at all, while those with higher levels of income, or over £6,000 in savings, would receive a lower Council Tax reduction than they do now.
“As ever with these things, we’re trying to strike a fair balance.
“But the modelling we’ve run on the proposed scheme suggests three quarters of those currently receiving support will see a reduction in Council Tax, and up to 8,000 households will have nothing to pay at all.
“Making this change would cost us an extra £1million a year but we’ve always placed great emphasis on supporting and protecting those most in need, and that’s even more critical now.”
Councillor Cook added: “These proposals do not affect pensioners. That’s because the current Council Tax support for pensioners is set by the Government and councils have no say over it.”
If the proposals are agreed by Cabinet, there will be a full public consultation with a view to a new Local Council Tax Support Scheme being introduced in April 2022.