Reading Borough Council

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1 Reading Borough Council Council Tax Reduction Scheme for Working Age & Pension Age Claimants Summarised Version

2 Index Contents Pages Index 2-3 Introduction 4-6 Council Tax Reduction Scheme for Pension Age claims Class A Support 7 Class B Support 7-8 Class C Support 8 Council Tax Reduction Scheme for Working Age claims 8-9 Class D support 8-9 Class E support 9-10 Exclusions from Council Tax Support 11 Students 11 Amount of Council Tax Support 12 Payment of Council Tax Support 12 Overpaid Council Tax Support 12 Capital 12 Capital rules for Working Age claims Capital rules for Pension Age claims Second Adult Reduction (Pension Age applicants) 14 Temporary Absence 14 Non-Dependant deductions Living Allowances (Applicable Amount) 16 Calculating an applicant s income 16 Disregarded Income 17 Disregards from Earnings 18 Childcare Charges 18 Extended Reductions 18 Second Adult Reduction (Pension Age applicants) General Administration of our Council Tax Support scheme 2

3 Appendix 1: Claim Administration Page How to claim Council Tax Support 21 Start Date of claim Date of Claim for Pension Age applicants: 22 Pensioners 22 Guarantee Credit 22 Standard Claims including Savings Credit claims 22 Newly liable for Council Tax 23 Date of Claim for Working Age applicants 23 Income Support/Income Based Jobseekers Allowance/Income Related Employment & Support Allowance & Universal Credit Claims 23 Linked claims made via Jobcentre Plus 23 Newly liable for Council Tax 23 Non Income Support/Income Based Jobseekers Allowance/Income Related Employment & Support 23 Allowance Defective Claims Evidence & Information 24 Evidence & Information not supplied 24 Date on which entitlement begins 24 Pensioner Age claims 24 Working Age claims Backdating 25 Duty to notify changes of circumstances 25 Reporting Channels 25 Reportable change of circumstances Persons receiving Pension Credit 26 Late reported change of circumstances 26 Advantageous changes 26 Disadvantageous changes 27 Decisions on claims 27 Notification of decisions 27 Nil qualifier decisions 27 Changes affecting the amount of Council Tax Support due 27 Counter Fraud and Compliance 28 Appeals to: 28 Entitlement and Assessment Team 28 Valuation Tribunal 28 Judicial Review 28 Payment of Council Tax 28 Discretionary Special Hardship Fund Section 13A Council Tax Discretionary Relief Policy 29 Appendix 2: Applicable Amounts Applicable Amounts : Pensioners 2016/ Applicable Amounts: Working Age 2016/

4 Introduction Reading Borough Council s Council Tax Reduction Scheme This document sets out the summarised version of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme for the billing year , including relevant changes that apply from 1 April 2016, for both persons of Working Age and Pension Age. This document does not cover in detail the full version of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, as it is intended to merely provide an overview of the basic rules governing our scheme. Persons of Working Age For persons of Working Age, the applicable amounts and premiums have been frozen in line with the existing figures adopted in the billing year 2015/2016. Non-dependant deductions for persons of Working Age will be uprated in line with the relevant figures shown in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations (SI 2015/2041). For the billing year 2016/2017, persons of Working Age, will now be required to make a minimum contribution of at least 20% towards their Council Tax liability, instead of 15%. In other words, from 1 April 2016, the maximum Council Tax Support available to persons of Working Age will now be based on 80% of their Council Tax liability, instead of 85%. Where a person of Working Age is entitled to Council Tax Support of 5 per month, (equivalent to 1.15 p/w) or less, they will no longer qualify for any Council Tax Support from 1 April This will affect existing claimants and those persons who submit a new claim after April From 1 April 2016, Council Tax Support will be restricted based upon the Council Tax charge for a Band D property, for those persons of Working Age, who currently live in a Band E, F, G or H property. This restriction will affect existing claimants and new customers who make a claim for Council Tax Support after this date. Persons of Working Age making a new claim for Council Tax Support after 1 May 2016 will no longer qualify for a Family Premium within the calculation of their claim. Similarly, where a claimant or their partner have a child born on or after 1 May 2016, they will no longer qualify for a Family Premium within their Council Tax Support assessment, unless they were already receiving such a premium prior to 1 May Persons of Working Age already receiving a Family Premium prior to 1 May 2016 within the calculation of their Council Tax Support will continue to do so, whilst they remain responsible for a child or young person within their household or until they make a new claim for Council Tax Support. The changes to the Family Premium as outlined mirror the Housing Benefit (Abolition of the Family Premium) Amendment Regulations (S.I 2015/1857). From 1 April 2016, where a person of Working Age intends to be temporarily absent 4

5 from the UK, they will only continue to qualify for Council Tax Support (during this period of absence), if they expect their period of absence at the outset to last for 4- weeks or less. (This new provision reduces the current 13-week temporary absence rule to 4-weeks in this scenario). There are no backdating provisions within our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. There are no second adult rebate provisions within our Council Tax Reduction Scheme for persons of Working Age. Persons of Working Age receiving Universal Credit & claiming Council Tax Support Where a person is receiving Universal Credit, they will be treated as possessing the Income and capital as determined by the Secretary of State, for the purposes of their Universal Credit claim. This is defined in Rule 38 of our current Council Tax Reduction Scheme. For the avoidance of doubt, where a person s monthly payment of Universal Credit is equal to their maximum Universal Credit amount, as determined by the Secretary of State, their Council Tax assessment will be based on 80% of their Council Tax liability, less any non-dependant deductions and in accordance with the relevant provisions of our scheme. In those circumstances where a person s monthly payment of Universal Credit is less than their maximum Universal Credit amount, as determined by the Secretary of State, we will treat their Applicable Amount as the maximum Universal Credit amount (including any housing element). A person s income and capital will then be assessed in accordance with the terms of our local Council Tax Support Scheme. A person s monthly Universal Credit payment will also be treated as part of their overall income in the calculation of their Council Tax Support assessment. The person s overall income as discussed above will then be compared to their Maximum Universal Credit applicable amount, and any excess income will be tapered at 20% and deducted from their maximum Council Tax liability allowed for within our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. A person s Council Tax Support entitlement will also be assessed in accordance with the terms and conditions that underpin our Scheme for the billing year 2016/2017. Persons of Pension Age Applicable Amounts for persons of Pension Age will be uprated in accordance with the annual uprating provisions order from April 2016, as specified in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations (SI 2015/2041). Where a person of Pension Age qualifies for a premium within their applicable amount, for example, a Carer s Premium, or a Severe Disability Premium, the rates of these premiums are frozen in line with those existing premium rates in force for 2015/2016. Non-Dependant deduction rates have been uprated from 1 April 2016 in line with the 5

6 above prescribed requirements, as defined in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations (SI 2015/2041). The changes to the award of the Family Premium as outlined in relation to persons of Working Age, will equally apply to those persons of Pension Age, where applicable. The changes to the Family Premium as outlined above mirror the Housing Benefit (Abolition of the Family Premium) Amendment Regulations SI 2015/1857. Persons of Pension Age will continue to have their entitlement to Council Tax Support calculated on 100% of their Council Tax liability. They will also not be subject to the rule that states that no Council Tax Support will be payable if their award is 5 per month ( 1.15 p/w) or less. Persons of Pension Age will also be entitled to have their Council Tax Support assessment based on their Council Tax liability for the actual band of property that they are occupying. In other words, a person of Pension Age will not have their Council Tax Support calculation capped to a Band D property, if they happen to occupy a property in Bands E, F, G or H. Our Scheme also includes where applicable, the prescribed requirements as outlined in S.I No: 2885 The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012 for both Working Age and Pension age applicants. It further includes the prescribed requirements as outlined in S.I 2013/3181 The Council Tax Reductions Schemes (Prescribed Requirements)(England) Regulations 2013 and S.I 2014 No: 3312 The Council Tax Reductions Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations

7 The following 3 classes of pensioners will qualify for Council Tax Support in accordance with our Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2016/2017. Class A Pensioners whose income is no greater than the applicable amount- To obtain Class A support the applicant must: a. Have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit; and b. Not be somebody with a partner of working age in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance; and c. Be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a dwelling in which they are resident; and d. Who subject to paragraph 18 (periods of absence from a dwelling), is not absent from the dwelling throughout the day; and e. Not have capital of 16,000 or above (x); and f. Must have their assessed income less than or equal to the their living allowance as set by Central Government; and g. Must not fall within a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme; and h. Have made a valid application for Council Tax Support; and i. Neither the claimant or any partner is in receipt of Universal Credit (x) *Unless a person receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. Where combined income is at or below the Living Allowance, that person will qualify for 100% reduction on their Council Tax liability, net of any Council Tax discounts. The Council Tax Support will be reduced if non dependant deductions are applicable. 7 Class B: pensioners whose income is greater than the applicable amount On any day class B consists of any person who is a pensioner a. Have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit; and b. Not be somebody with a partner of Working Age in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance; and c. Be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a dwelling in which they are resident; and d. Who, subject to paragraph 18 (periods of absence from a dwelling), is not absent from the dwelling throughout the day; e. Not have capital of 16,000 or above; and f. Have an assessed income above their Living Allowance as set by central government; and g. Must not fall within a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme; (paragraphs 19-24) and h. In respect of whom amount A exceeds amount B where- (i) amount A is the maximum council tax reduction in respect of the day in the applicant s case; and (ii) amount B is 2 6/7 per cent of the difference between his income for

8 the relevant week and his applicable amount; and i. Have made a valid application for Council Tax Support; and j. Neither the claimant nor any partner is in receipt of Universal Credit Where Class B applies, Council Tax reduction will be applied at 100%, net of any Council Tax discounts and/or disregards, less any non-dependant deductions. Where combined income is higher than the Living Allowance 20% of the difference will be subtracted from the Council Tax liability. The amount of Council Tax Support will be further reduced if non dependant deductions are applicable. Class C Second Adult Reduction Persons of State Pension Age To obtain Class C support the applicant must: a. Have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit; and b. Not be somebody with a partner of Working Age in receipt of income support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance; and c. Be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a dwelling in which they are resident; and d. Must not fall within a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme; and e. Have made a valid application for Council Tax Support; and f. Be somebody who at least one second adult living with them who is not his/her partner, not somebody who pays rent, and who is on a prescribed low income Second Adult Reduction may be awarded at 100%, 25%, 15% or 7.5% of a person s Council Tax liability, depending on the total gross income of the second adult(s). Where there is more than one second adult, who is not disregarded for Council Tax purposes, the total gross income of all the second adults will be used to calculate the appropriate percentage reduction Class D: persons who are not pensioners whose income is less than the applicable amount On any day class D consists of any person who is not a pensioner 8 a. Have not attained the qualifying age for state pension credit; or has attained the qualifying age for state pension credit and is/or his partner is on Income Support, an income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or on an income-related Employment and Support Allowance; and b. Subject to paragraph (i), Be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a dwelling in which he is solely or mainly resident; and c. Who, subject to paragraph 18 (period of absence from a dwelling), is not absent from the dwelling throughout the day; and d. Have a combined income equal to or below their Living Allowance; and; e. Not have capital at 6,000 or above at the date of claim for a council tax reduction or during that same billing year within which a further claim is made (x), irrespective of whether or not this capital has been spent (y); and

9 f. Must not fall within a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme; (paragraphs 19-24), g. Have made a valid claim for Council Tax Support. h. A person who falls within this group will only qualify for a Council Tax Reduction where their actual award is above 5 per month, (equivalent to 1.15 p/w). i. Where a person s property is in Band E, F, G or H, their Council Tax Reduction will be capped based on the Council Tax charge for a Band D property. (x) (y) This rule will not apply if a person qualifies for and is in receipt of Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance or where a person s Universal Credit monthly payment is identical to their maximum Universal Credit amount. Where a person seeks to reclaim a council tax reduction in the same billing year within which they have previously held capital of 6,000 or over, they will fall within sub-paragraph (f), as a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme. Sub-paragraph (f) will also apply irrespective of whether or not a person s capital is below 6,000 when they seek to reclaim. Sub-paragraph (e) will however not apply if a person can bring themselves within subparagraph (a). Where Class D applies, 80% Council Tax reduction will be applied, net of any Council Tax discounts and/or disregards, less any non-dependant deductions. Class E: persons who are not pensioners whose income is greater than the applicable amount On any day class E consists of any person who is not a pensioner a. Have not attained the qualifying age for state pension credit; and b. Be liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a dwelling in which they are solely or mainly resident; and c. Who, subject to paragraph 18 (period of absence from a dwelling), is not absent from the dwelling throughout the day; and d. Be somebody in respect of whom a maximum Council Tax Support amount can be calculated; and e. Not have capital at 6,000 or above at the date of claim for a council tax reduction or during that same billing year within which a further claim is made(x), irrespective of whether or not the capital has been spent(y); and f. Have a combined income greater than their Living Allowance; and in respect of whom amount A exceeds amount B where 9 (i) amount A is the maximum council tax reduction in his case; and (ii) amount B is 2 6/7 per cent of the difference between his income for the relevant week and his applicable amount; and g. Must not fall within a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme; (paragraphs 19 24) and h. Have made a valid claim for Council Tax reduction i. A person who falls within this group will only qualify for a Council Tax

10 Reduction where their actual award is above 5 per month, (equivalent to 1.15 p/w). j. Where a person s property is in Band E, F, G or H, their Council Tax Reduction will be restricted based on the Council Tax charge for a Band D property. (x) This rule will not apply if a person qualifies for and is in receipt of Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance or where a Universal Credit monthly payment is equal to a person s maximum Universal Credit amount. If a person meets this condition, they will fall within Class D. (y) Where a person seeks to reclaim a council tax reduction in the same billing year within which they have previously held capital of 6,000 or over, they will fall within sub-paragraph (g), as a class of person not entitled to a reduction under the scheme. Sub-paragraph (g) will also apply irrespective of whether or not a person s capital is below 6,000 when they seek to reclaim. Sub-paragraph (e), will however not apply if a person can bring themselves within subparagraph 16(a). Where Class E applies, where combined income is higher than the Living Allowance, 20% of the difference will be subtracted from the maximum Council Tax reduction of 80%, net of any discounts and/or disregards, less any non-dependant deductions. 10

11 Exclusions from Council Tax Support Our Council Tax Reduction Scheme reflects the classes of people who are excluded from the scheme as outlined within Paragraph 2, sub-paragraphs 11 to 13 of The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012, SI In addition, Reading Borough Council further includes the following groups of people who will be excluded from Council Tax Support: Applicants excluded from our Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme include: Persons treated as not Habitually Resident in the UK or do not have the right to reside in the UK; or Persons subject to Immigration Control, (as per the meaning given in Section 115(9) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999);* or Persons of State Pension Age who have capital of 16,000 or above, unless they receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit; or Persons of Working Age who have capital of 6,000 or above at the date of their claim or at any time during the financial year within which the claim is made; unless they receive Income Support, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance or are in receipt of a Universal Credit award which is equal to their maximum Universal Credit amount. Persons of Working Age who qualify for a weekly amount of 1.15 or less in Council Tax Support, ( 5 per month). Full time students who fall within the definition of Regulation 75(1) of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. *Those persons given refugee status, humanitarian protection or exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom may continue to be eligible for some support. Students Most full-time students are not entitled to Council Tax Support, as their property will be due a Class N Council Tax exemption. Where an exemption does not apply, certain groups of full-time student may still be eligible to claim, subject to the terms and conditions of our Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme. 11

12 Amount of Council Tax Support For both Working Age and Pension Age claims the amount of Council Tax Support will depend on each of the following: Council Tax band Any other discounts or exemptions Whether the claim falls within the Working Age rules* Whether the claim falls within the Pension Age rules** Date the claim is made Household income Income and appropriate disregards Capital and appropriate disregards Number of dependent children Number of non-dependents Other conditionality of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme *For Working Age claims the amount of Council Tax Support will be calculated using 80% of the person s Council Tax liability. This percentage is set by Reading Borough Council. **For Pension Age claims the amount of Council Tax Support will be calculated using 100% of the person s Council Tax liability. This percentage is decided by Central Government. Payment of Council Tax Support Where there is entitlement to Council Tax Support it will be credited to a person s Council Tax account. Overpaid Council Tax Support Overpaid Council Tax Support will be debited to the Council Tax account for repayment by the charge payer. Capital Capital held by an applicant and/or their partner may affect entitlement to Council Tax Support. Examples of capital include: Cash Current accounts Bank, building society or Post Office accounts ISA s Stocks and shares National Savings Certificates Premium or income bonds Second homes, here or abroad Holiday homes, here or abroad Land, here or abroad 12

13 Within our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, we will still continue to mirror certain types of capital disregards as defined in both Schedule 6 of The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012 and within Schedule 9 and 10 of our local scheme. Where an applicant and/or their partner have a beneficial interest in a second property or land, this may also affect their capital position for the purposes of establishing their entitlement to Local Council Tax Reduction. Capital rules for Working Age claims Capital under 6,000 The total savings held by an applicant and/or their partner below 6,000 will be disregarded in full. Capital between 6,000 and 15,999 Tariff income of 1 will be assumed for every 250 of capital held between 6,000 and 15,999. Capital over 16,000 There will automatically be no entitlement to any Council Tax Support for the whole of the billing year 2016/2017 if the total capital held by the applicant and/or their partner is at 6,000 or above as of 1 April This will also apply if a new claim for Council Tax Support is made during the same billing year, irrespective of whether the capital has been spent. This rule will cease to apply if the applicant and/or their partner become entitled to and receive an income-related benefit, such as Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance or a Universal Credit monthly payment which is the same as the person s Maximum Universal Credit amount during that same billing year. Capital increases to 6,000 or above during the billing year 2016/2017 Where an applicant and/or their partner s capital increases to 6,000 or above during the billing year 2016/2017, there will automatically be no ongoing entitlement to any Council Tax Support from the Monday following the date that the change takes effect for the rest of that billing year. This means that all Council Tax Support paid in advance and credited to the Council Tax account will be repaid by the charge payer. Capital rules for Pension Age claims 13 Under 10,000 The total capital held by an applicant and/or their partner below 10,000 will be disregarded in full 10,000 to 15,999 For every 500 of savings or part thereof held between 10,000 and 15,999, 1

14 per week will be added to the income used to calculate Council Tax Support. This assumed income will be known as Tariff Income. 16,000 or over There will be no entitlement to Council Tax Support when total capital is 16,000 or more. The 16,000 limit will not apply if the applicant or their partner receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. If an applicant and/or their partner only receive the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit, their Council Tax Support assessment will be calculated on the Assessed Income Figure and Savings Credit figure as provided to us by the Pensions, Disability & Carers Service. Second Adult Reduction (Pension Age Applicants) There is no capital limit in Second Adult Reduction. Where capital exceeds 16,000, the charge payer may still be entitled to Second Adult Reduction. Temporary Absence If an applicant is temporarily absent from their home they may still be entitled to get Council Tax Support for up to 13 weeks as long as: They have an intention to return home; and They do not let or sub-let the part of their home where they normally live; and They will not be away for more than 13 weeks; and The period of absence is not expected to exceed 13 weeks from the outset; and They continue to qualify for Council Tax Support based on their income and capital; and They continue to have a liability to pay Council Tax For persons of Working Age, there will be no entitlement to Council Tax Support if they intend to be absent from the UK for more than 4-weeks. In certain circumstances, an applicant may be able to get Council Tax Support for up to 52 weeks during a period of temporary absence, for example if they are in hospital, receiving medical care in the UK or abroad or are held in custody on remand. Non dependant deductions Deductions will be made from an applicant s Council Tax Support for any persons aged over 18 who normally live with them, or for whom they do not receive Child Benefit, subject to certain exclusions. Non-dependants are typically grown up children or elderly relatives. The following people do not count as non-dependants, whether they share the accommodation or not: Partners Carers employed by a charity that charges for the service Joint tenants Sub-tenants Boarders Tenants of owner occupiers 14

15 Non-dependant deductions Where a non-dependant deduction is applicable, there will be four levels of deduction. Non dependant s gross weekly earnings Weekly deduction from Council Tax Support Less than Between 195 and Between 388 and Over Where a non-dependant is not working 16-hours per week, the lowest deduction of 3.77 will apply. Where a non-dependant is working more than 16-hours per week, the level of nondependant deduction will be based on the non-dependant s gross weekly earnings, in accordance with the income bands shown in the above chart. Where a non-dependant has an award of Universal Credit but no earned income within the calculation, the lowest non-dependant deduction of 3.77 p/w will apply. Where a non-dependant has an award of Universal Credit which includes earned income, but where they work for less than 16-hours per week, the lowest non-dependant deduction of 3.77 p/w will apply. Where a non-dependant has an award of Universal credit which includes earned income and where they work for 16-hours or more per week, the level of non-dependant deductions will be based on the gross level of the non-dependant s earnings. A non-dependant deduction will not be made from Council Tax Support if the claimant and/or their partner are: registered blind or treated as blind; or receiving Attendance Allowance; or receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance in respect of themselves or their partner; or are receiving the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment; or The armed forces Independence Payment A non-dependant deduction will not be made from Council Tax Support if the non-dependant is receiving one of the following: Income Support; or Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance; or Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance; or State Pension Credit; or 15

16 A non-dependant deduction will not be made from Council Tax Support if the non-dependant is: Severely mentally impaired; or Over 18 but Child Benefit is still payable for them; or A student nurse or apprentice or on Youth Training; or A patient who has been in hospital for 52 weeks or more; or Living in residential care or a nursing home; or A Care Worker; or A resident of a hostel or night shelter for the homeless; or A full-time student (even if they work full-time during the summer vacation); or The non-dependants normal home is elsewhere. Living allowances (Applicable Amount) The living allowances or applicable amount represent the needs of the applicant, partner and their household. This includes: A personal allowance for an applicant and their partner, (where applicable); and A personal allowance for children in the applicant s family, (where applicable); and Premiums, (where applicable) For the purposes of assessing entitlement to Council Tax Support, we have based the Living Allowances on the applicable amount figures set by central government for the financial year 206/2017, as defined in the introduction of our scheme. A full list of the personal allowances, premiums, and non-dependant deductions, income and earnings disregards which will take effect from April 2016 to April 2017 can be found in Appendix 2, within this policy. Calculating an applicant s Income Council Tax Support will be calculated based on the combined income of the applicant and their partner on a weekly basis. Income is all the money that an applicant and their partner have coming in from earnings, other welfare benefits, tax credits, universal credit and any other sources of income, subject to certain disregards as defined in both paragraph 16 of The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012 and within our local scheme. Where a claimant and/or their partner are receiving Universal Credit, we will base their Council Tax Support assessment on the Income and Capital calculation as determined by the Secretary of State. 16

17 Disregarded Income The following types of income are not counted when working out an applicant s Council Tax Support: Income Support Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance Disability Living Allowance Personal Independence Payments Attendance Allowance Constant Attendance Allowance Child Benefit Child Maintenance payments received War pensioners mobility supplement War Disablement Pension or a War Widow s/widower s Pension; Special payments made relating to a war widow s pension if they have been designated as a pre-1973 war widow Any money an applicant gets from the Social Fund Guardian s Allowance Any money received as a holder of the Victoria Cross, the George Cross or any comparable award Any grants or allowances received from the Local Education Authority if they have a dependent child who continues in education after school leaving age Any expenses refunded from their employer for carrying out their work Any expenses received from a charity so that they can carry out unpaid work Any income in kind Money from fostering a child Money from a Local Social Services Department to help keep a child at home instead of putting them in care Housing Benefit Any charitable or voluntary payments which are received regularly; Payments made under the Employment Department s Access to Work scheme for disabled people 17

18 Disregards from earnings Standard disregards will apply to earnings as follows: 5 per week for a single applicant; ( per month) 10 per week for a couple; ( per month) 20 per week (certain disabled persons), ( per month) 25 per week for a lone-parent; ( per month) 175 per week for eligible childcare costs for one child** 300 per week for eligible childcare costs for two or more children** A further earnings disregard of 17.10* per week applies to certain claimants who meet certain qualifying conditions. *This additional earnings disregard of per week will generally apply if an applicant works on average 30 hours a week or more. They can also qualify for this higher disregard if they work 16 hours a week or more and are a lone parent or disabled. **The disregards shown from earnings for eligible childcare costs are dependent on certain qualifying conditions being met. (Please note that the eligible childcare costs earnings disregards of 175 p/w and 300 per week (as above) will not apply where a person is receiving Universal Credit, since the appropriate allowances for childcare (where applicable) would have already been reflected within the Universal Credit assessment). Childcare charges In certain circumstances we can disregard eligible childcare charges of up to 175 p/w (for one child) or up to 300 p/w for 2 or more children against an applicant s earnings. This disregard is in addition to the other earnings disregards we have highlighted and is available to: Lone parents who are working 16 hours or more per week; Couples where both are working 16 hours or more per week; Couples where one member is working 16 hours or more per week and, where the disability premium is included in the applicable amount on account of the other member s incapacity. It applies where recognised childcare is provided, for example, registered child minders or day nurseries for children until the first Monday in September following their 15 th birthday (or their 16 th birthday for children who are entitled to disability living allowance (or the relevant Personal Independence Payment) or who are registered blind). In some cases, help with childcare costs can be given while an applicant is on maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave or are sick. 18

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20 Extended Reductions Extended Reductions (formerly Extended Payments) will continue to be a key feature of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. If the applicant or partner s qualifying benefit(s) stop due to starting work or increased hours, they may qualify for a 4-week Extended Reduction. This will be paid at the same rate as when they were receiving an income-related qualifying benefit. An Extended Reduction will not be due where the job isn t expected to last at least 5-weeks. To qualify an Extended Reduction the applicant or partner must have been getting a qualifying income related benefit for a continuous period of at least 26-weeks prior to the change: Income Support; or Income-Based Jobseekers allowance; or Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance; or a combination of these for a continuous period of 26-weeks An Extended Reduction may also be due where the applicant or partner qualified for a non income related benefit for a continuous period of at least 26-weeks prior to the change: Incapacity Benefit; or Severe Disablement Allowance; or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance; Second Adult Reduction (Only available to persons claiming who are of state pension age). A liable person may be able to get Second Adult Reduction if they share their home with one or more adults and their income and/or capital (the liable person s) is too high to qualify for Council Tax Support. Second Adult Reduction is designed to assist a liable person in meeting their Council Tax liability if they share their home with a second adult, other than their partner, who is on a low income. Second Adult Reduction may be awarded in the following circumstances: The liable person has made a claim; and The liable person s partner, (where applicable) is disregarded for Council Tax purposes; and The liable person is treated as living on their own for Council Tax Support purposes and shares their home on a non-commercial basis with a person who is on a low income and who is not liable to pay Council Tax; and The second adult is aged 18 or over; and No other person is paying the liable person rent for living in their home 20

21 In order to be classed as a second adult, they must not be: Liable for the Council Tax; or A joint owner or tenant with the applicant; or married or living-together with the applicant as their partner; or Someone who is disregarded for the purposes of a discount; or Living with more than one liable person. Second adult reduction is awarded on the basis of a liable person s council tax bill, after any discounts that they may be entitled to. The amount of second adult reduction will be calculated as follows: Second Adult Where the second adult or all second adults are in receipt of income support, an income-related employment and support allowance or are persons on income-based jobseekers allowance; Where the gross income of the second adult, or where there is more than one second adult, their aggregate gross income disregarding any income of persons on income support, an income-related employment and support allowance, state pension credit or an incomebased jobseekers allowance If the dwelling is occupied by a second adult/adults on state pension credit, income support, incomerelated jobseekers allowance or an income-related employment and support allowance, who live with a full-time student(s). Amount of Second Adult Reduction 25% of the Council Tax due in respect of that day *15% of the Council Tax due in respect of that day, if the gross income of the second adult(s) is less than 193 per week. *7.5% of the Council Tax due in respect of that day, if the gross income of the second adult(s) is more than 193 per week but less than 250 per week. 100% of the Council Tax due in respect of that day. *The percentage and income figures shown above are subject to review each April. Where the total gross weekly income of all second adults exceeds 250, there can be no entitlement to Second Adult Rebate. 21

22 General Administration of our Council Tax Support Scheme Appendix 1: Claim Administration How to Claim Council Tax Support Claims for Council Tax Support will need to be made in accordance with the requirements of Schedule 7, Part 1 of The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012 and as defined within our local scheme. In summary, an application may be made (a) on-line by completing a BECS form available on our website: Persons of Working Age Persons of Working Age only claiming Council Tax Support and not receiving Universal Credit Persons of Working Age only claiming Council Tax Support and not receiving Universal Credit will need to complete an on-line claim for Council Tax Support, as discussed above. Persons of Working Age who have claimed Universal Credit Persons of Working Age who have made a claim for Universal Credit will still need to make a separate claim for Council Tax Support, by making an on-line claim, as discussed above. Persons already claiming Housing Benefit Where a person makes a claim for Housing Benefit via Reading Borough Council, we will also treat this as an intention to claim Council Tax Support, where a person has a Council Tax liability. (A person may be required to complete an on-line claim for Council Tax Support at the discretion of the Local Authority). Persons making a claim for Housing Benefit via Jobcentre Plus Where a person has made a claim for Housing Benefit via Jobcentre Plus, this will also be treated as an intention to claim Council Tax Support, where they have a Council Tax liability. (A person may be required to complete an on-line claim for Council Tax Support at the discretion of the Local Authority). Persons of Pension Age Persons of Pension Age seeking to claim Council Tax Support will need to complete an on-line claim, as discussed above. Persons of Pension Age who have claimed Housing Benefit via The Pension Service Persons of Pension Age who have claimed Housing Benefit via The Pension Service will be treated as having an intention to claim Council Tax Support, subject to us receiving an on-line claim for Council Tax Support within one-month of their application for Pension Credit. 22

23 Date of claim for Pension Age Applicants Pensioners Where a claim for Council Tax Support stands to be assessed under the pension age scheme, the date on which their application will be deemed to be made will be determined in accordance with paragraphs 110, 111 and 111A of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Guarantee Credit Where an award of state pension credit has been made to the claimant or their partner which includes some guarantee credit, and they make a claim for Council Tax Support within one-month of the date within which their Pension Credit claim was received at the Designated Office, their date of claim will be treated as the same date that Pension Credit guaranteed credit is awarded. This is essentially a 3 month take-on period. Standard Claims including Savings Credit Claims Where a person of pension age makes a claim for Local Council Tax Support, their claim will automatically be treated as made from three months prior to when their application is received. A person must show however that they meet the qualifying conditions for this earlier period and also have a liability to pay Council Tax. 23

24 Newly liable for Council Tax Where the claimant and/or their partner are in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and become liable for the first time to pay Council Tax in respect of their home, their date of claim for Council Tax Support will be treated as the date that they first became liable to pay Council Tax, where their claim is made within one-month of the commencement of liability. Date of claim for Working Age Applicants For Working Age Claimants, their date of claim will be determined in accordance with paragraphs 109 and 110 of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Income Support/Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance/Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance & Universal Credit Claims Where a claimant or their partner have been awarded Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance or Universal Credit and they make a claim for Council Tax Support within one-month of claiming one of the above benefits, the date of claim will be treated as the date that their entitlement commenced to one of the above benefits, arising from their claim. Newly liable for Council Tax Where a claimant or their partner have been awarded Income Support, Income- Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance or Universal Credit and they make a claim for Local Council Tax Support within one-month of first becoming liable to pay Council Tax in respect of their dwelling, their date of claim will be treated as the date that they first become liable for Council Tax. Non Income Support/Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance/Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance & Universal Credit Claims Where a properly completed claim is received within one-month of the date on which the application form was issued to the applicant, following them first notifying the authority by whatever means of their intention to make a claim, the date of claim will be treated as the date of first notification. Defective Claims Where a person has made a claim for Council Tax Support which is treated as defective, they will be given the opportunity to correct this defect by providing a completed form and/or information within one month of being asked to do so. If the completed claim and all supporting information are received back within a one month time frame, the claim will be treated as duly made from the date from when their initial claim for Council Tax Support was made. If the completed form and all information are not received back within one month, the Council will consider whether or not it can treat the claim as duly made in the first instance and make a decision on it where they can. Where information or evidence is 24

25 missing an adverse inference may be inferred. In the event that a claim cannot be treated as duly made, due to it being incomplete or where supporting information has not been provided, (and a person has not sought to rectify their defective claim within one month of being asked to do so), the Council will decide that a person is not entitled to any Council Tax Support. Information and Evidence Subject to paragraph 112 of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, a person will be required to verify both their National Insurance Number and the National Insurance Number for any other person for whom they are making the application for. A person must also furnish the authority with all such certificates, documents, information and evidence in connection with their application or their award of Council Tax reduction, or any question arising out of the application or the reduction, as may reasonably be required by the authority in order to determine that person s entitlement to, or continuing entitlement to a reduction under this scheme. This must be done within one month of the authority requiring them to do so or such longer period as the authority may consider reasonable. Information & Evidence not supplied Where an applicant does not provide the Council with all requested documents and information in support of their claim for Council Tax Support, within one month or any such longer period as determined by the authority, the claim will be determined solely on the information held. In some instances, a nil entitlement decision to Council Tax Support will be made. This is due to an adverse inference being drawn that a person s income and capital are too high to qualify. (Rule 118 of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme). Date on which entitlement begins The date on which entitlement to Council Tax Support begins will be determined in accordance with paragraphs 105 and 105A of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Pensioner Age claims A person who makes a valid claim for Council Tax Support and who qualifies for a Council Tax reduction will generally be entitled to that reduction in the following week that their claim is treated as made. Where a person makes a valid claim for Council Tax Support within the same week in which they first become liable for Council Tax in respect of their dwelling, will be entitled to a Council Tax reduction in that same reduction week. 25 Working Age claims A person who makes a valid claim for Council Tax Support and who qualifies for a Council Tax reduction will generally be entitled to that reduction in the following

26 week that their claim is treated as made. Where a person makes a valid claim for Council Tax Support within the same week in which they first become liable for Council Tax in respect of their dwelling, will be entitled to a Council Tax reduction in that same reduction week. Backdating There are no backdating provisions within our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Duty to notify changes of circumstances By virtue of paragraph 114 of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme, a person will be required to notify all relevant changes in their circumstances within 21-days of the change of circumstances taking place, subject to the paragraphs below. Reporting Channels Changes in circumstances can be reported: In writing to the Entitlement & Assessment Team To the Customer Service Team either in person or by phone Web form Text message Reportable change of circumstances The applicant must immediately notify either the Council s Customer Service or Entitlement and Assessment Team if there are any changes in their circumstances that might affect their right to or the amount of Council Tax Support. Changes that must be reported include: 26 Their income, or the income of anyone living with them changes Anyone moves into or out of their home, including children, other adult family or friends, lodgers, sub-tenants Births, death and marriage If they, or anyone who lives with them, starts or leaves a job If they, or anyone who lives with them, ceases to be entitled to Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit Any of their children leave full time education If they or anyone living with them becomes a student, goes on a youth training scheme, goes into hospital, a nursing home or into prison If they move If they or their partner are going to be temporarily absent from their home If they or their partner s capital or savings change

27 Any decision made by the Home Office about the applicant and/or their partner s Immigration status Childcare costs that the applicant or their partner pays, including if they stop paying childcare costs There is no requirement to report the following changes: Changes in the amount of Council Tax payable to the authority; Changes in the age of the claimant or that of any member of their family; The change in the rate of a relevant benefit, (Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment & Support Allowance or Universal Credit). Persons receiving Pension Credit Where a person is receiving Pension Credit, they need only to report the following changes in their circumstances: Changes affecting the residence or income of any non-dependants living within their household; Any absence from the home which will exceed or is likely to exceed 13 weeks Persons receiving only the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit also have a duty to report the following: Changes affecting a child living with them, which may affect the amount of a Council Tax reduction, except for the age of the child; Any capital changes which may take the claimant s capital to or above 16,000 Late reported change of circumstances 27 Working Age applicants Advantageous Changes Where a person reports a relevant change of circumstances within one month of it occurring and the change entitles them to a higher amount of Council Tax reduction, it will generally take effect from the Monday following the date that the change occurred. Where a relevant change is reported outside of the one month timeframe of the change occurring and the change would result in a higher amount of Council Tax reduction, it will generally take effect from the Monday following the date that the change was reported. An exception will apply, where an applicant can demonstrate that there were special circumstances as to why the change was reported late. Where special circumstances do apply, the maximum period up to which a latereported advantageous change will be considered from an earlier date will be one-year, subject to the person having special circumstances for notifying the change of circumstances late. (This is in accordance with paragraph 107 of our Council Tax Reduction Scheme).

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