To consider whether the current Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme is the most appropriate for this Council for the financial year commencing 1 April 2021.
Note – Councillor Gill Gardner declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in this item and was disconnected from the meeting.
Note – Linda Fisher, Legal Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) declared a personal interest in this item of business by virtue of the fact that she was a Trustee of the War Widows Association. She remained in the Chamber during the discussion and voting on the item, although with no voting rights as an officer of the Council.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder highlighted the South Lakeland District Council was one of a limited number of Councils to offer up to 100% Council Tax relief and that around 10% of properties benefitted from the scheme. After considering the options for change, it was expected that the current scheme would continue unchanged for the financial year of 2021/22. This was with the exception of applying the annual upratings and other minor income and capital disregards, and treatment of persons from abroad aligned to other means tested benefit schemes.
The Portfolio Holder added that this was not something that the Council had to do, but was something the Council had chosen to do with continual cross party support for the scheme.
Councillor Jarvis moved the recommendations contained in the report and was seconded by Councillor Suzie Pye, Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder, who was also proud to be associated with an authority which went beyond its statutory obligation when it came to helping the most vulnerable in society, alleviating poverty and tackling inequality in South Lakeland. The Council remained one of only 36 authorities to offer a fully-funded Council Tax Reduction scheme for working age claimants, which was not cheap. Councillor Pye felt it to be value for money, and allowed people to manage, to flourish and to thrive.
Members echoed what had been said and thanked the Finance Team for putting together a balanced budget to enable the Council to offer this Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was
RESOLVED – That:-
(1) the current Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme it being the most appropriate scheme for this Council for the financial year commencing 1st April 2021 subject to the Operational Lead Case Management in consultation, be approved and adopted, with the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder being authorised to:-
(a) make all necessary updates to this Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme to comply with any statutory requirements that may be issued by central government;
(b) make all necessary amendments to the Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme to uprate the allowances and premiums in accordance with the HB Circular A1/2021 regarding annual upratings issued in January 2021 by the Department of Work and Pensions; and
(c) publish the updated scheme in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 2012.