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UC and council tax reduction

Sally63
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Generalist Adviser, Southwark Citizens Advice Bureau

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UC seem to have started to warn claimants that they will have to claim CTR themselves rather than it being worked out automatically by the council. Which is a good step forward, if late.

This client had made her CTR claim but had also started work—very recently and only 10hpw. I asked the CT call centre staff member to note that she had started work and her approx wages.

The CT staff member asked if she had notified UC (not yet, no) and when asked why she said that UC should notify them when her wages change. I was astonished because if this is the case why can’t a UC notification also enable the CTR to be worked out without a separate claim.

“Do they do this?” I said. “Not reliably, no” the staff member said. “but they are supposed to”

HB Anorak
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CTR requires three pieces of data: max UC, UC award and DWP income assessment. It is possible to estimate what these will be if someone’s income changes while getting UC, but I would expect that in practice most local authorities wait to get the calculation details from DWP. So there is a built in delay before CTR can be reassessed.

As long as indicators are correctly set on CIS, the DWP notification should always appear at the Council’s end.

Jon (CHDCA)
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why can’t a UC notification also enable the CTR to be worked out without a separate claim.

Just to be clear - I don’t think any council will put a CTR award into effect without the person actually choosing to make a claim for it. Once it’s up and running, then the data matching can happen. 

Logically, CT support could just have been a component of UC, and that’s how it was originally envisioned, but I think that battle has been lost.

andyrichards
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The basic reason why an application is needed is that CTR is administered solely by councils and sits outside the social security system.  We’d never get it past the auditors if we didn’t have some sort of signed application.  In any case the transfer of data from UC doesn’t necessarily capture all the information needed for CTR schemes due to all the variations in the rules from council to council nowadays.

There was a review undertaken quite recently into the idea of subsuming council tax support into UC, but that came down against it.

[ Edited: 16 Aug 2018 at 10:30 am by andyrichards ]
Income Max
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How reliable are the evidence exchanges between UC and CTR?

I’ve encountered a case where CTR is alleging Clt has £15k (supposedly based on figures from UC), even though Clt claimed UC with no capital and UC never disputed this. Is this a one-off or are such discrepancies happening regularly?

 

Ianb
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My understanding is that rules for income for Tax Credits closely follow the rules for what counts for Income Tax purposes. An inheritance is not liable to income tax. Possibly someone at HMRC is confusing the two possible interpretations of ‘estate’.

Sally63
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I can see that councils cannot pay CTR without a claim.

What is surprising me is that UC are passing (or able to pass) wages (and UC receipt) info to the council.

a common scenario here is for clients to bring in enormous CT bills and court hearing dates and say something like “I can’t possibly be expected to pay this”.

And the underlying situation is that they have claimed UC. Previously their CTR was done automatically (they have a joint form generally) so the client was not aware of claiming and receiving the CTR.

And more significantly, they are not aware in UC of the need to make a separate application. In one of our local councils the HB/CTR claim is made on one form and there is no form to just claim CTR

Timothy Seaside
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I have come across a situation where the revenues and benefits department have a policy* of ending CTR claims when they receive the UC stop notice for HB. The second part of the policy is that they send out an invitation to claim CTR. Honestly.

Has anybody else come across this?

Can anybody think of a way this could possibly be lawful?

...thought I’d canvass some opinions before I start kicking off!

*just to be clear, when I say “policy” I am not talking about an official or published policy or scheme -  on second thoughts, “process” might be a better word for it.

[ Edited: 21 Sep 2018 at 09:19 am by Timothy Seaside ]
Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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This may be of interest from Kirklees LA - : we shared this with our local MP who passed it on to the Supremo to be of our new unitary LA to be next year.

Its a debate amongst LA workers on HBINFO forums ‘radical CTR schemes’ - see below

One post asked didn’t specify LA the following

‘we are finding that a large % of UC claimants are simply not bothering to apply for CTR, which is adversely affecting collection rates. This is not merely because the DWP don’t explain the process to the customer, but even after we have sent them a “personal invite”.

This may be a bizarre questions, but are there any councils who simply award CTR on receipt (and on the basis) of a UCSOS, without the customer actually making a claim. I can see so many pitfalls with this, but I have been asked for an opinion as to whether this is legal / viable, etc’.

Response from Kirklees LA

‘Yes - our amended CEO Direction

Kirklees Council, (“the Authority”) in accordance with the following Regulations and scheme:

Regulation 83, 83A, 87, 88, 88A and Schedule 11 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006,
Regulation 64, 64A, 68, 69, 69A and Schedule 8 of the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006,
Schedule 7 Part1 and Part 4, and Schedule 8 Part 2 of the Kirklees Council - Council Tax Reduction Scheme (the Regulations and Scheme),
hereby makes the following directions-

An individual who, in accordance with the Regulations and Scheme cited above, makes a claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction or reports a change of circumstances in accordance with those regulations or scheme he/she is authorised to do so provided that the individual uses the method approved by the Authority in relation to that action.

The methods acceptable to the authority are as follows:

New Claims

By the authority’s approved electronic form;
By completion of a claim by an authorised officer of the Council, or by a person authorised by the council to act as such, using the authority’s approved electronic form;
By telephone to a number published for that purpose
By the action of making a claim for Universal Credit and indicating that they “intend to claim LCTR from their Local Authority” on that claim form. That action will generate an electronic notification to the Authority from the Department for Work and Pensions, and that notification will constitute the claim, the claim date will correspond with the date upon which the Universal Credit claim is made. 
Change in Circumstances

By completion of the authority’s approved electronic changes of circumstances form;
By completion of a changes of circumstances form by an authorised officer of the Council, or by a person approved by the council to act as such, using the authority’s approved electronic form;
By sending to the published email address for reporting such changes an email with all details required by the authority;
By telephone to a number published for that purpose
By informing the Department for Work and Pensions of a change affecting a claim for Universal Credit in accordance with their requirements. That notification will generate an electronic notification to the authority and it will be used to determine ongoing entitlement in accordance with the authority’s scheme.
Notwithstanding the authority’s intention to make the claiming of benefit and notification of changes more efficient and accessible through the use of electronic means, the authority reserves the right to request further evidence in an individual case or class of cases.

Without prejudice to section 233 of the Local Government Act 1972, Service Of Notices By Local Authorities, in accordance with regulation 2 of The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 this authority will serve notices by electronic means when asked to do so for the purposes of Council Tax or when asked to do so by virtue of an electronic application for a Council Tax Reduction’.

__________________

Jon (CHDCA)
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Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District - 20 September 2018 05:34 PM

This may be of interest from Kirklees LA - : we shared this with our local MP who passed it on to the Supremo to be of our new unitary LA to be next year.

Its a debate amongst LA workers on HBINFO forums ‘radical CTR schemes’ - see below

One post asked didn’t specify LA the following

‘we are finding that a large % of UC claimants are simply not bothering to apply for CTR, which is adversely affecting collection rates. This is not merely because the DWP don’t explain the process to the customer, but even after we have sent them a “personal invite”.

This may be a bizarre questions, but are there any councils who simply award CTR on receipt (and on the basis) of a UCSOS, without the customer actually making a claim. I can see so many pitfalls with this, but I have been asked for an opinion as to whether this is legal / viable, etc’.

Response from Kirklees LA

‘Yes - our amended CEO Direction

Kirklees Council, (“the Authority”) in accordance with the following Regulations and scheme:

Regulation 83, 83A, 87, 88, 88A and Schedule 11 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006,
Regulation 64, 64A, 68, 69, 69A and Schedule 8 of the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006,
Schedule 7 Part1 and Part 4, and Schedule 8 Part 2 of the Kirklees Council - Council Tax Reduction Scheme (the Regulations and Scheme),
hereby makes the following directions-

An individual who, in accordance with the Regulations and Scheme cited above, makes a claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction or reports a change of circumstances in accordance with those regulations or scheme he/she is authorised to do so provided that the individual uses the method approved by the Authority in relation to that action.

The methods acceptable to the authority are as follows:

New Claims

By the authority’s approved electronic form;
By completion of a claim by an authorised officer of the Council, or by a person authorised by the council to act as such, using the authority’s approved electronic form;
By telephone to a number published for that purpose
By the action of making a claim for Universal Credit and indicating that they “intend to claim LCTR from their Local Authority” on that claim form. That action will generate an electronic notification to the Authority from the Department for Work and Pensions, and that notification will constitute the claim, the claim date will correspond with the date upon which the Universal Credit claim is made. 
Change in Circumstances

By completion of the authority’s approved electronic changes of circumstances form;
By completion of a changes of circumstances form by an authorised officer of the Council, or by a person approved by the council to act as such, using the authority’s approved electronic form;
By sending to the published email address for reporting such changes an email with all details required by the authority;
By telephone to a number published for that purpose
By informing the Department for Work and Pensions of a change affecting a claim for Universal Credit in accordance with their requirements. That notification will generate an electronic notification to the authority and it will be used to determine ongoing entitlement in accordance with the authority’s scheme.
Notwithstanding the authority’s intention to make the claiming of benefit and notification of changes more efficient and accessible through the use of electronic means, the authority reserves the right to request further evidence in an individual case or class of cases.

Without prejudice to section 233 of the Local Government Act 1972, Service Of Notices By Local Authorities, in accordance with regulation 2 of The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 this authority will serve notices by electronic means when asked to do so for the purposes of Council Tax or when asked to do so by virtue of an electronic application for a Council Tax Reduction’.

__________________

Interesting. Did Kirklees consult on this change to the scheme? (I can’t immediately see a consultation on their website)

[ Edited: 10 Sep 2019 at 11:06 am by Jon (CHDCA) ]
Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Jon (CHDCA) - 10 September 2019 11:03 AM
Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District - 20 September 2018 05:34 PM

This may be of interest from Kirklees LA - : we shared this with our local MP who passed it on to the Supremo to be of our new unitary LA to be next year.

Its a debate amongst LA workers on HBINFO forums ‘radical CTR schemes’ - see below

One post asked didn’t specify LA the following

‘we are finding that a large % of UC claimants are simply not bothering to apply for CTR, which is adversely affecting collection rates. This is not merely because the DWP don’t explain the process to the customer, but even after we have sent them a “personal invite”.

This may be a bizarre questions, but are there any councils who simply award CTR on receipt (and on the basis) of a UCSOS, without the customer actually making a claim. I can see so many pitfalls with this, but I have been asked for an opinion as to whether this is legal / viable, etc’.

Response from Kirklees LA

‘Yes - our amended CEO Direction

Kirklees Council, (“the Authority”) in accordance with the following Regulations and scheme:

Regulation 83, 83A, 87, 88, 88A and Schedule 11 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006,
Regulation 64, 64A, 68, 69, 69A and Schedule 8 of the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006,
Schedule 7 Part1 and Part 4, and Schedule 8 Part 2 of the Kirklees Council - Council Tax Reduction Scheme (the Regulations and Scheme),
hereby makes the following directions-

An individual who, in accordance with the Regulations and Scheme cited above, makes a claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction or reports a change of circumstances in accordance with those regulations or scheme he/she is authorised to do so provided that the individual uses the method approved by the Authority in relation to that action.

The methods acceptable to the authority are as follows:

New Claims

By the authority’s approved electronic form;
By completion of a claim by an authorised officer of the Council, or by a person authorised by the council to act as such, using the authority’s approved electronic form;
By telephone to a number published for that purpose
By the action of making a claim for Universal Credit and indicating that they “intend to claim LCTR from their Local Authority” on that claim form. That action will generate an electronic notification to the Authority from the Department for Work and Pensions, and that notification will constitute the claim, the claim date will correspond with the date upon which the Universal Credit claim is made. 
Change in Circumstances

By completion of the authority’s approved electronic changes of circumstances form;
By completion of a changes of circumstances form by an authorised officer of the Council, or by a person approved by the council to act as such, using the authority’s approved electronic form;
By sending to the published email address for reporting such changes an email with all details required by the authority;
By telephone to a number published for that purpose
By informing the Department for Work and Pensions of a change affecting a claim for Universal Credit in accordance with their requirements. That notification will generate an electronic notification to the authority and it will be used to determine ongoing entitlement in accordance with the authority’s scheme.
Notwithstanding the authority’s intention to make the claiming of benefit and notification of changes more efficient and accessible through the use of electronic means, the authority reserves the right to request further evidence in an individual case or class of cases.

Without prejudice to section 233 of the Local Government Act 1972, Service Of Notices By Local Authorities, in accordance with regulation 2 of The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 this authority will serve notices by electronic means when asked to do so for the purposes of Council Tax or when asked to do so by virtue of an electronic application for a Council Tax Reduction’.

__________________

Interesting. Did Kirklees consult on this change to the scheme? (I can’t immediately see a consultation on their website)

See attached Jon

[ Edited: 10 Sep 2019 at 12:38 pm by Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District ]
Jon (CHDCA)
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Thanks Andy. I might be missing it, but I don’t actually see in that document where they consulted on creating a new method of claiming? Not that I think it’s a terrible idea, but I thought they were meant to consult on changes to the scheme every year, and it might have been interesting to air the pros and cons of this one.

(There is a bit about not having to reclaim CTR if you floated off it within the last 6 months and then have a drop income, which is a good idea.)

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Jon (CHDCA) - 10 September 2019 02:56 PM

Thanks Andy. I might be missing it, but I don’t actually see in that document where they consulted on creating a new method of claiming? Not that I think it’s a terrible idea, but I thought they were meant to consult on changes to the scheme every year, and it might have been interesting to air the pros and cons of this one.

(There is a bit about not having to reclaim CTR if you floated off it within the last 6 months and then have a drop income, which is a good idea.)

I have a vague feeling they came up with several options and actually did consult the public (might have imagined it), haven’t got time to delve deeper. But i’m sure last year i saw stuff on their website.

But might be worth googling because it may be quicker and bring up further papers. From experience with bus campaigns in the past in Dorset it can be really tortuous threading your way through LA websites.

One last thought what about contacting Kirklees?

 

Jon (CHDCA)
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Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

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Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District - 10 September 2019 04:17 PM

One last thought what about contacting Kirklees?

:) That would be the sensible step.