Support revealed for council tax bills of Hartlepool's more vulnerable households

Councillors in Hartlepool have unanimously backed retaining their existing local council tax support scheme aiding vulnerable residents in the town.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 6:07 pm

Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee this week unanimously supported maintaining its local council tax support scheme (LCTS) at 12% for 2022/23.

The council has operated the 12% scheme in every year since 2014/15, ensuring financially-disadvantaged working age households with a full entitlement pay no more than 12% of council tax.

Councils are required to fully protect low income pensioners eligible for LCTS support.

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The council tax support decision came as bills are set to rise by 4.9% in 2022.

Cllr Shane Moore, council leader, said at the meeting he was in support of keeping the scheme at 12% once more, adding it is “right” they keep it at that level.

Council officers noted by way of comparison, within the Tees Valley for 2020/21 two Local Authorities operated a 20% scheme, one operated a 17.5% scheme and one a 15% scheme.

Several other councillors also stressed the importance of the 12% scheme remaining, after considering a report which looked at the impact of potentially increasing the percentage paid.

Labour’s Cllr Pamela Hargreaves said: “I think it’s absolutely critical that we support this and we try and protect the vulnerable.

“We all have to support this and we have to get behind it.”

Cllr Jim Lindridge, Independent, said he was fully supportive of maintaining the 12% scheme.

He said: “We are protecting the vulnerable, that’s it in a nutshell.”

The existing 12% scheme means that for 2021/22 a Band A household in receipt of full support will pay £167.76 in council tax.

As of July 2021 there were 13,632 LCTS claimants in Hartlepool, of which 9,034 were working age and 4,598 pension age.

However a report from council officers warned there remains a risk when furlough ends in September 2021 the caseload “may increase significantly” and then take a period of time to reduce to the pre Covid level.

It added it’s anticipated the impact of Covid will not be permanent, with a steady reduction in the working age caseload back to pre-covid levels, followed by stable numbers going forward.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies published in 2019 showed for 2018/19 nationally 20% was the most common scheme operated.

However it added a significant number of councils operated a scheme with a higher percentage i.e. less favourable to claimants.

The report will now go before a Full Council meeting for final approval.

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