Clause 8 — Council tax reduction schemes
Bills Presented — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Relocation to Bristol) Bill
Kevan Jones (North Durham, Labour)
I was going to say that it was a pleasure to follow the hon. Gentleman, but his contribution kept getting worse.
Clause 8 of the Bill, headed “Council tax reduction schemes”, sets out the provisions for local councils to draw up their local council tax schemes. Proposed new subsection (2) states:
“Each billing authority in England must make a scheme specifying the reductions which are to apply to amounts of council tax payable, in respect of dwellings situated in its area, by—
(a) persons whom the authority considers to be in financial need, or
(b) persons in classes consisting of persons whom the authority considers to be, in general, in financial need.”
However, the Bill gives no guidance on what local authorities should take into consideration when drawing up their schemes. We could have a plethora of different schemes up and down the country and, as was referred to earlier by Government Members, neighbouring authorities could have completely different schemes and criteria for how people apply for council tax benefit. We know that the Secretary of State will exclude pensioners, but the amendments tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends would add some criteria or at least set out what the baseline should be.
I am sorry that Mr Ward does not seem to care and trusts that every local authority, good or bad, will consider every single thing, including child poverty. If he had any experience of the Secretary of State’s time in charge of Bradford council, for example—clearly he had—he would know that he had little concern for the poor and the needy.