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Council Tax Benefits

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 25th February 2013.

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Photo of Mark Hendrick Mark Hendrick Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance he has issued to councils regarding devising schemes for administering council tax benefit from April 2013.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

We have taken a number of steps to ensure local authorities are well placed to implement local council tax support schemes in April 2013:

We have ensured local authorities received early notice of the requirements of secondary legislation. We published a statement of intent in May, setting out in detail what would be covered by secondary legislation; published draft regulations on the default scheme and prescribed requirements in July for comment; and have laid regulations on the default scheme and prescribed requirements (and an associated uprating instrument), the council tax base, administration and enforcement, transitional arrangements, fraud and contracting out.

We have provided advice and guidance on a range of issues including work incentives, local authorities' responsibilities in relation to vulnerable groups, the transition grant, administration of support within the council tax system, and the operation of the default scheme in relation to people receiving universal credit.

We have also provided information to help local authorities consider the financial implications of their schemes. This has included a design tool to help local authorities analyse the impact of scheme options; a funding consultation, which provided provisional funding allocations for all authorities; a consultation on the business rates scheme, setting out how allocations to local authorities would be calculated in 2014-15; a consultation and Government response on the council tax base and funding for local precepting authorities; transition grant criteria and allocations; and final funding allocations, which were issued as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement.

We have supported regular communication to and between local authorities, including by providing regular email policy updates to Chief Finance Officers and other interested officials, and hosting two national events for local authorities to share experience and issues.

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