Brentwood Borough Council

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Brentwood Borough Council

FOI 4504

Council Tax Benefit

Request

Funding totals
Q1. How much does the council expect to spend on Council Tax Benefit in 2012/13? (Please provide the figure for the council itself, eg. a figure which does not include amounts relating to any precepting authorities and so is comparable to the 2013/14 figure provided by DCLG in Annex A of its funding consultation. http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/2146644) 
All staffing costs are met by the billing authority as are all collection costs.

Q2 If the council has made a different calculation of the funding change between 2012/13 and 2013/14, what is the result of this calculation and how was it made?


Q3 How much does the council expect to spend on single persons discount in 2013/14?

Empty Homes
Q4 What is the maximum additional income the council would receive in 2013/14 if it scrapped the discount on empty homes completely?


Q5 Is the council minded to use the new powers to change discounts on empty homes?

Q6 If yes to question 5, what change to the discount and what additional income does the council expect from this?

Q7 If there is any extra explanation or context you’d like to provide about the scheme design, please do.

Second homes
Q8 What is the maximum additional income the council would receive in 2013/14 if it scrapped the discount on second homes completely?

Q9 Is the council minded to use the new powers to apply additional council tax to second homes?

Q10 If yes to question 10, what change to the discount and what additional income does the council expect from this?

Q11 If there is any extra explanation or context you’d li ke to provide about the scheme design, please do.

Response

Funding totals
Q1. How much does the council expect to spend on Council Tax Benefit in 2012/13? (Please provide the figure for the council itself, eg. a figure which does not include amounts relating to any precepting authorities and so is comparable to the 2013/14 figure provided by DCLG in Annex A of its funding consultation. http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/2146644)
A1 It is not possible to produce a truly comparable figure for Council Tax Benefit expenditure in comparison to Local Council Tax Support as the basis of the calculation is different, in that Council Tax Benefit is applied to the bill as a rebate against the amount owed and Local Council Tax Support is applied as a reduction in liability on the same basis as an award of single person discount.
As is stands the Borough Council will award somewhere in the region of £4.3 million of Council Tax Benefit (net of recovered “excess benefit” (over payments of Council Tax Benefit)). That £4.3 million is met from the general fund of the billing authority. The DWP subsidises the billing authority £1 for every £1 of benefit properly awarded and at 40p in the £ for over payments caused by claimant error or fraud. This is then subject to audit, again at the cost of the billing authority. Any audit errors found are extrapolated and are also recovered entirely from the billing authority. It is important to stress that all risks associated with Council Tax Benefit rest with the billing authority.

All staffing costs are met by the billing authority as are all collection costs.

With Local Council Tax Support, as this is calculated as a discount against liability, it will be calculated against the collection fund (shared between the billing authority and the preceptors). The bulk of the financial risk rests with the precepting authorities (County, Police and Fire as well as Parish Councils to some extent)

Billing authorities can design their own scheme that may not make a scheme fit the overall budget applied within the collection fund (as a rough and ready guide the amount of funding available for Local Council Tax Support for the Brentwood “area” will be £3.6 million).
Q2 If the council has made a different calculation of the funding change between 2012/13 and 2013/14, what is the result of this calculation and how was it made?
A2 Please see A1
Q3 How much does the council expect to spend on single persons discount in 2013/14?
A3 £3.6 million cost to the collection fund (£43,200 cost to Brentwood)
Empty homes
Q4 What is the maximum additional income the council would receive in 2013/14 if it scrapped the discount on empty homes completely?
A4 Difficult to calculate accurately but the Borough anticipates around £233,000 for the collection fund for empty & second homes
Q5 Is the council minded to use the new powers to change discounts on empty homes?
A5 Will be part of the consultation
Q6 If yes to question 5, what change to the discount and what additional income does the council expect from this?
A6 Will be part of the consultation
Q7 If there is any extra explanation or context you’d like to provide about the scheme design, please do.
A7 None
Second homes
Q8 What is the maximum additional income the council would receive in 2013/14 if it scrapped the discount on second homes completely?
A8 See A4
Q9 Is the council minded to use the new powers to apply additional council tax to second homes?
A9 Will be part of the consultation
Q10 If yes to question 10, what change to the discount and what additional income does the council expect from this?
A10 Will be part of the consultation
Q11 If there is any extra explanation or context you’d li ke to provide about the scheme design, please do.
A11 None