This graph shows the impact of the replacement of Council Tax Benefit (CTB) with Council Tax Support (CTS) in London local authorities. From April 2013, local authorities across England were required to devise their own systems of CTS for working-age adults, and funding for it was reduced. It replaced the national system of CTB which provided support to low-income families to help with their Council Tax bill. Councils had to keep the previous system in place for pensioners.
The most common change that local authorities have made from the former CTB system has been to introduce a ’minimum payment’ which requires everyone to pay at least some Council Tax regardless of income. This graph shows how much more CTS claimants pay on average relative to the system of national support before April 2013.
Seven boroughs – Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston, Merton, Tower Hamlets and Westminster – and the City of London have not introduced a minimum payment or a band cap and so, apart from minor adjustments, their CTS schemes remain similar to the national CTB scheme. In these boroughs, residents on a low income still receive a full Council Tax discount.
In 15 local authorities, 200,000 low-income residents pay at least £200 or more a year on average towards their Council Tax liability than they would have under the CTB scheme. CTS is received by families with very low incomes, who are now generally expected to pay some Council Tax regardless of just how low that income is. Since April 2013, inhabitants of London with the same income living in neighbouring boroughs may have to pay very different amounts of Council Tax.
These estimates are derived from a combination of government statistics and details on local authority schemes collected through Freedom of Information requests. Official statistics are used to model the number of couples and singles in each band who are entitled to Council Tax Support. Information on the nature of each local authority’s scheme is then used to model the reduction that each couple or single person would have seen in comparison with the last year of Council Tax Benefit in 2012/13. These two sources are combined to estimate the number of households who are affected by the cuts and to calculate the average reduction for each couple or single person, and overall.
This estimate produces the average effect of a minimum payment and/or a band cap on those entitled to Council Tax Support compared with the previous system of Council Tax Benefit. It does not estimate what individual households are paying. This method may also underestimate the amount of the average cut because certain households who may have been entitled to CTB are no longer entitled to CTS. These households are not in the statistics published by the government and so they cannot be taken into account.