Council Tax Hardship Relief Policy 2023/24

Created April 2023

1. Introduction

This guidance sets out the guidelines under which residents in West Sussex will qualify for Council Tax Support Hardship Relief of up to £25 per household if they are in receipt of Council Tax Support on 1st April 2023.

As a continuation of the 2021/23 hardship scheme West Sussex County Council has agreed to fund payments of up to £25 per working age resident if they are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction on 1st April 2023.

This document provides guidance to authorities about the operation and delivery of the relief.

2. Underpinning principles

Arun District Council recognises that the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis is likely to continue to cause fluctuations in household incomes and recognises that, as a result, some individuals may struggle to meet council tax payments. Our local council tax support scheme for 2023/24 has already been established.

Arun District Council will primarily use their council tax support grant allocation to reduce the council tax liability of individuals in their area, using their discretionary powers under s13A(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Council Tax reductions for this hardship relief for existing households in receipt of Council Tax Support should be applied as soon as possible from the beginning of the 2023/24 financial year and billing authorities should rebill council taxpayers as quickly as practical.

We will make the local population aware of how the grant support package will be delivered, e.g. through providing information on their websites and/or in press releases. 

We will maintain a record of grant expenditure under this scheme, both through the council tax system and their own local support mechanisms.

This assistance provided for council tax hardship will not affect the eligibility of recipients for other benefits.

3. Minimum reduction in council tax liability for working age LCTR claimants.

Arun District Council will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support (‘LCTS’) during the financial year 2023/24 with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of up to £25, using their discretionary powers to reduce the liability of council taxpayers outside of their formal LCTS scheme design.

Where a taxpayer’s liability for 2023/24, following the application of council tax support, is less than £25, then their liability would be reduced to nil. Where a taxpayer’s liability for 2023/24 is nil, no reduction to the council tax bill will be available.

There should be no need for any recipient of Local Council Tax Support to make a separate claim for a reduction under this scheme. The billing authority should assess who is eligible for support from the hardship fund and automatically rebill those council taxpayers.

Arun District Council is keen to ensure that support is provided as quickly as possible to individuals who are eligible. It therefore considers that there is a strong case for councils to provide the support up front to enable the maximum support to be delivered promptly.

4. Disputes

As this is a Discretionary Scheme there is no formal appeal against any decision Arun District Council will have an informal review process normally through a more senior or independent officer.  Any challenge must be on a point of law through the courts.

5. Policy review

This policy may be reviewed annually, or in response to any legislative changes, welfare reform or other factors that impact on its effectiveness.