DECISION MADE BY MAYOR & CABINET ON 17 DECEMBER
Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2015/16
Head of Public Services introduced the report. Councillor Muldoon
queried whether 55 responses received on the Council Tax Reduction
Scheme (CTRS) consultation was conclusive, as it appeared to be a
low response rate. The Head of Public Services commented that
Counsel’s advice was that it was considered proportionate
given the fact that the CTRS would be going into its third year,
with no changes to the administration of it.
Councillor Muldoon further commented that any assertion that
increased use of food banks was down to the sanction regime
implemented by the Department for Work and Pensions was anecdotal,
not based on hard evidence.
Chair noted that the take up of the Council’s Hardship Scheme
had been quite low, with less than 200 awards made during 2013/14.
He queried whether it was possible to ensure the scheme was
adequately advertised. The Head of Public Services commented that
the Council wanted to promote the scheme in a targeted manner, and
that affected individuals or households were identified and given
guidance on how to apply. The Chair further sought clarification on
what the anticipated remaining funds from the scheme would be at
the year end. The Head of Public Services stated that in 2012/13
£12,000 had been spent, and in 2013/14 only a negligible
amount had been spent, which partly reflected the fact that
collection rates had been higher.
Chair queried whether the Autumn Financial Settlement for Local
Authorities had proposed any amendments to the Social Fund, and
whether this would affect Lewisham. The Head of Public Services
commented that the Social Fund was currently the focus of a
Government consultation, although he was aware that the Government
was looking to cut funding. It was further commented that the
Council’s underspend on the social fund from last year and
this year would be used to continue the fund in the upcoming years.
The Head of Public Services clarified that this year’s
underspend had been around £1 million, while last year it was
just over £1 million.
Chair requested that a briefing on the figures relating to the
underspend be provided to the Panel. He also requested that a
briefing note relating to next year’s CTRS be provided to the
Panel, although the Head of Public Services confirmed that this
information would be included in the annual Council Tax Base report
in the upcoming months.