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Scheme which enabled hundreds of households to avoid paying council tax not set to be repeated in 2024

A scheme which enabled hundreds of households in Cannock Chase to avoid paying any council tax this year is not set to be repeated in 2024.

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Cannock Chase District Council

Full council tax reduction, which has previously only been available to pensioners, disabled residents or parents of children aged under five, was extended to other low-income households for 2023/24 to help those struggling with rising bills.

The offer meant around 1,900 additional households did not have to pay any council tax during the current financial year. But from April 2024 the reduction scheme is set to revert to a discount of up to 80 per cent for eligible residents of working age, members of Cannock Chase Council’s cabinet heard on Thursday.

Councillor Jacquie Prestwood, resources and transformation portfolio leader, said the authority was not in a position to be able to continue the additional support offered last year. But she added: “It is not our intention to reduce the help we give to residents, other than to reintroduce the 80 per cent cap for working-age claimants.”

A cabinet report said: “In the latter part of 2022, the council being very aware that issues relating to increases in the cost of living and to energy bills caused difficulties for many households, agreed that the 80 per cent cap on working age LCTR (Local Council Tax Reduction) be removed for the financial year 2023/24.The change involved additional expenditure of around £410,000, of which Cannock Chase Council met 12 per cent (£49,000).

“The 2023-24 scheme was enhanced to provide additional support for the most vulnerable of residents who otherwise would have had to pay 20 per cent of their council tax. These changes and necessary funding were agreed for one year only, with the scheme reverting to the 2022/23 levels, in the absence of further approvals.

“Continuation of the temporary enhancement to the scheme are not affordable. The review of our scheme has identified ways in which calculation and award of LCTR can be performed more efficiently and so some operational changes are proposed.”

The report added that people affected by the proposed changes will be formally consulted. The council tax for residents to pay in 2024/25 is due to be set in early 2024.