Council proposes change to how they calculate council tax for people claiming Universal Credit

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A change in how Fenland District Council (FDC) calculates council tax for people claiming Universal Credit could give residents more certainty over their bills.

The single monthly payment which was rolled out in Fenland in 2018 replaced and combined a number of benefits.

FDC's current scheme means working-age people who access support because

of a low income can claim up to 91.5 per cent off their council tax, depending on their individual circumstances.

However, as people claiming Universal Credit have an income that can rise and fall

each month based on their latest earnings from employment, under the existing scheme the amount of council tax people are expected to pay can also regularly change.

FDC say to provide people with "more certainty over their bills", they are proposing that people claiming Universal Credit will not see a change in their council tax unless their weekly income changes by more than £15, or £65 in a month.

It would not apply to people who have reached state pension age or are not on Universal Credit as other provisions achieve similar outcomes.

Members of the public are being invited to share their views on the council's plans to change their scheme.

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Councillor Chris Boden, leader of the council, said: "This is about providing greater certainty to people claiming Universal Credit so they know week in and week out what their council tax bill will be.

"This will help people to manage their finances better and is one of the ways we are seeking to support potentially vulnerable local people and help them avoid falling into debt.

"I'd encourage people to complete the survey to have their say and let us know what they think of the proposals."

The new approach would mean that small changes in income would not trigger a reassessment of council tax support, so Universal Credit claimants know how much their council tax will be and can more easily manage their finances.

If agreed, the change would come info affect from April next year.

While the change is expected to help the vast majority of claimants, the proposals also make provision for people who may be disadvantaged by a single change in the year, by giving the council the flexibility to not apply the new £15 tolerance rule on a case-by-case basis.

A consultation on the proposals is open now until November 10 2019 at

www.fenland.gov.uk/consultations or in hard copy at one of the customer service centres or community hubs.

Results from the consultation will be taken into account before the final proposal

is put forward for consideration by councillors in early 2020.

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