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Oxford City Council Opens Consultation on Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Oxford City Council has opened public consultation on its council tax reduction (CTR) scheme for working age people.

The council is considering potential changes to CTR in 2024/25 and consultation is a necessary step in this process.

Councils have been responsible for drawing up their own CTR schemes since the abolition of national council tax benefit for working age people in April 2013. Oxford is one of only a few councils to maintain 100% support for claimants.

The end of a government support grant in 2019 means the council now carries the full cost of its CTR scheme. A rising caseload due to the cost of living means it expects to spend more than £1.9 million on CTR this financial year.

All claims for CTR are assessed using an income band system which provides discounts of up to 100% on claimants’ council tax bills. The council is asking people whether the income bands should be uprated in line with inflation, which stood at 10.1% at the end of 2022/23.

A 10.1% increase to income bands means that households with an income of less than £26,728 would qualify for some support.

The consultation also asks people for their views on several other questions on the CTR scheme. These include:

  • whether income bands should be increased by a smaller amount
  • whether adults not named on the bill – such as adult sons and daughters – should be expected to make some contribution towards the council tax
  • whether letters about CTR should be online only rather than sent by post
  • increasing backdate periods to more than one month
  • how people prefer to get communications about their CTR and other benefits paid by the council
  • people’s overall satisfaction with the council’s Benefits service

Any changes to CTR would not affect people of pension age as pensioners are still covered by a separate national support scheme.

Taking part

Consultation is now open on the council’s consultation portal until 23:59 on Monday 4 September.

Paper versions of the consultation questionnaire are also available from Oxfordshire County Library and in community centres.

Thoughts by leaders

Councillor Ajaz Rehman, cabinet member for inclusive communities, said: “There are very few councils still offering 100% support for working age council tax payers, and Oxford is one of them. We know that people are struggling because of the cost of living and we want to know how far our income band scheme should reflect rising prices.

“We also want people to tell us about how they’d prefer us to communicate with them about their CTR and other benefits that we pay.

“Consultation is an opportunity for everyone in Oxford to provide feedback and I’d encourage as many people as possible to take part.”

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