Nucleus Legal Advice is urging people to respond to two important Government consultations on the future of local government funding. Local Government settlement 2016-2017 and Council Tax Support Review were launched in December but there are concerns many people have missed them. Nucleus is responding to both of these consultations as we deal with many clients who are supported by council services.
The first is: ‘Provisional local government finance settlement 2016 to 2017 and an offer to councils for future years’
This consultation invites the views of interested parties on proposals for the local government finance settlement for 2016 to 2017, and for the approach to future local government finance settlements. This consultation is open to 15 January 2015 but Nucleus feels it should be extended because of the issues of flooding which affected parts of the country an the Christmas/New Year period. This consultation was only launched on 17 December 2015, we are concerned it is possible it may have been missed by many with responsibilities in local government.
The second consultation is on council tax reduction (CTR) schemes, launched on 2 December 2015 with a closing date of 12 January 2016. This is under to section 9 of the Local Government Act 1992 to review the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of council tax reductions schemes and is being conducted by Eric Ollerenshaw MP.
Submissions on this review can be made to email@example.com
The system of localised CTR has a disproportionate a impact upon taxpayers on low incomes. These problems are not surprising as 100% support by way of Council Tax Benefit (CTB) – abolished in April 2013 – was the cornerstone of council tax introduced by John Major’s Government in 1992. With its removal, liability to tax is being pushed upon those the system was originally designed to protect. Effectively, in many areas the change to local CTR has re-introduced a version of the poll tax or community charge in many areas. In May 2015 Citizens Advice reported that the number of cases of council tax handled by the charity increasing by 21% over the year, to 193,000 with council tax arrears becoming the biggest single debt issue seen by the charity in England for two years, and have overtaken other areas of debt. This experience has been mirrored by other charities and advice agencies throughout England and Wales and by Nucleus.
Nucleus is asking our local MPs to request the Secretary of State to extend the time limits for responses from the public and local government.
Alan Murdie, chairman of Nucleus commented “It is important that everyone with responsibility in local government and concerned for the provision of future services engages with these consultations on budgets and future spending allocation. In particular, the council tax reduction scheme needs to be changed to restore the 100% reductions for adults under pensionable age on low-incomes which were removed in 2013. “