Taken from Wokingham Borough Council News Centre.
Wokingham Borough Council is launching a review of the single person’s council tax discount to ensure residents receiving it remain entitled to claim.
Just like other local authorities, the council is facing huge financial challenges and increased demand for statutory services, and needs to ensures its vital services are protected and residents get the support they need. Council tax income funds essential services the council provides to its residents.
Why the council is conducting this review
The review will ensure single person households are entitled to receive the reduction in council tax whilst also making sure households whose circumstances may have changed pay the right amount of council tax.
The single person’s council tax discount is available to a person aged 18 years old and over and living alone in their main home. The discount provides a reduction of 25 per cent from their council tax bill which reflects the reduced demand single persons have on local services when compared to larger households. The discount is currently received by over 19,000 people living in Wokingham Borough.
Executive member for finance Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey said: “Like many local councils we are under severe financial pressure due to out-of-control inflation and increasing demand for support for people in need. We need to make sure we are fair and that help is directed where it is needed. As such we felt it was time to review the single person’s discount and make sure our records are up to date. Council tax income is critical to fund essential services which benefit all our residents so it’s important we make sure households contribute their fair share.”
Residency checks to take place
The council is working with NEC Software Solutions to carry out residency checks on households currently receiving the single person’s council tax discount. These checks will establish if households are still entitled to receive the discount or if further investigation is required.
A previous review identified many households incorrectly applying for the single person’s council tax discount which resulted in over £330,000 in additional council tax collected.
Cllr Shepherd-DuBey continued: “The majority of those claiming the single person’s discount remain entitled to it and will be completely unaffected by this review – and I would urge anybody who is eligible but not receiving to come forward. However, there are a small minority of cases where personal circumstances have changed, such as where a lodger or a partner has moved in, and the household may not realise they can no longer claim.
“I would urge any council taxpayer who knows their circumstances have changed, or who are unsure if they are still eligible, to contact us. If they have a financial concern, our team are always happy to discuss options and there may be other discounts the household qualifies for instead.”
How to notify the council of any changes
Changes to circumstances which impact on a household’s eligibility for a single person’s discount or any other council tax discount or exemption need to be notified to the council within 21 days or they can face a penalty of £70.
Any resident who thinks they may no longer be entitled to a council tax discount should email [email protected]
Council tax income allows the council to provide services to help improve the lives of everyone who lives, works or visits the borough. The vast majority of the council’s budget is spent on supporting those in the community who need our help most such as children and adults with learning difficulties or physical disabilities and people who need extra help due to old age.
Find out more on how council tax is spent by visiting the Engage Wokingham website.