In News by Bembridge PC

A two-month consultation has been launched today (Monday 10 June) on potential changes to the Island’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme.

Islanders are being asked for their views on a series of options, which have been influenced by national changes – including the introduction of Universal Credit and reductions in government grant funding.

The current scheme provides up to 70 per cent council tax support for people on certain benefits and low incomes.

The three new options under consideration would replace the existing ‘means testing’ approach with a new system – aimed to simplify calculations and make it easier for people to budget.

The changes could affect more than 5,300 existing working age claimants across the Island, with some potentially seeing an increase in their council tax support and others a reduction. Those of pension age will not be affected.

The options, however, do maintain the existing maximum of up to 70 per cent council tax support, and there are elements of additional support for some applicants.

If approved, changes to the scheme could be made from April next year.

Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: “I would strongly urge people to register their views on this consultation, which may potentially affect the council tax support for a significant number of claimants.

“National factors, such as Universal Credit, have necessitated the need to bring in a revised scheme – and the options have been drawn up following careful consideration of a range of alternatives.”

The options introduce a new ‘income grid scheme’ to help calculate the council tax support claimants might receive. This takes into account the national introduction of Universal Credit by the Department for Work and Pensions from October 2018, replacing six existing benefits.

Councillor Stewart said: “The consultation includes an explanation of how the options might work, and it is important to stress to Islanders on low incomes that we will continue to retain and operate a hardship fund for those in particular need.”

More information on the options can be found on the council’s website within the consultation document, which can be completed online at: . Paper copies of the survey can be requested by contacting the council on (01983) 823950.

The consultation closes on 5 August, with recommendations to the Full Council in November this year, and the new scheme due to come in from April 2020.