The Leader of the Council – Minutes – 3 August 2012

26  (7) LOCALISING SUPPORT FOR COUNCIL TAX – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report seeking consideration of the proposals for a local council tax support scheme and sought to determine the basis on which the council would undertake public consultation.

The paper set out the principles of the proposed scheme and outlined that the decision to adopt the final scheme would need to be made at the November 2012 meeting of the council, at the same time as setting the council tax base.

The Local Government Finance Bill currently before Parliament imposed a duty on billing authorities to make a localised council tax support scheme by 31 January 2013.  There was also a requirement to consult on the proposed council tax support scheme with all interested parties. This was the responsibility of the billing authority, or of more than one authority, if a joint scheme was being considered. Consultees included relevant precepting authorities, the voluntary sector those affected and the general public.

The timescales for approving a scheme, a proper consultation process and final approval was however tight and as any scheme had to be approved before 31 January 2013, this meant that a final scheme needed to be agreed at the November 2012 meeting of council alongside the existing legal requirement to set the taxbase for 2013/14.

There were also choices to be made on how the consultation should be conducted. The proposed approach was outlined in section 4 of the report.

The Director of Policy and Resources confirmed that as there was now a shared Local Taxation and Benefits Service it made sense to run consultations in the two areas in the same way, whilst using material appropriate to each council. It was not proposed, however, that the two councils run a joint consultation.

All four Humber councils had consulted with officers of the Police and Fire authorities who were supportive of the proposed approach outlined in paragraph 3.3.  The report sought approval to undertake further detailed consultation with all relevant stakeholders and it was considered that this would allow the council to make an informed decision on the local scheme in time for implementation in 2013/14.

Resolved – (a) That scheme 1, as set out in appendix D, be adopted as the draft scheme for public consultation; (b) that the consultation be carried out in line with the elements and timescale set out in paragraphs 4.16 to 4.21 of the report; (c) that the consultation includes a proposed Housing Costs Support Fund to cover cases of financial difficulty (as detailed in appendix E of the report); (d) that the format of the consultation with taxpayers and claimants be as set out in appendix F of the report, and (e) that the outcomes of consultation be reported to council in November 2012 for a decision to be made on the final scheme.