Means tested scheme for tax

As part of the UK Government’s reforms to welfare benefits the existing Council Tax Benefit scheme will be replaced by a means tested discount scheme.

This will be called the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and in 2013/14 if you receive support, the only change to be aware of, is the name.

Council Tax bills will be sent out late February and to coincide with this an online question and answer session took place on Aberdeenshire Council’s Facebook page yesterday.

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of finance Alan Wood said: “A reduction to the amount of funding Aberdeenshire Council receives from UK Government will be in place from April.

“In light of devolved policies and processes between national, regional and local government, those residents eligible for support will not notice a difference this year, other than the change of name.

“This is because councils are working in conjunction with the Scottish Government to deliver local solutions. The UK Government is providing only 90% of the funds than it did previously towards the new Council Tax scheme, however the shortfall of 10% is to be funded by Scottish Government and local authorities this year.

“Future rates will be subject to change as the details of the new scheme and how it is administered are investigated and we will be working on solutions with the Scottish Government for 2014/15.

“We know people might be concerned as their bill might look different so that is why we are holding an online Q&A session on Facebook and we will be holding more events to provide advice and support throughout the year.”

Council Tax Benefit (CTB) was an income-related benefit designed to help people on low incomes pay their Council Tax. It can be paid whether or not the claimant is available for, or in, full-time paid work and can be claimed by owner-occupiers.

Changes to benefits this year also include a cap on the total benefits a household can receive, a size criteria for the social rented sector and the introduction to Universal Credit.

The Council Tax Reduction Scheme will not be included towards the calculation against the benefit cap, and will not be part of the Universal Credit.