Agenda item

*Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2023/24

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report. 


Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Mid Kent Revenues and Benefits Partnership introduced the report set out in the agenda.


Discussion and questions from Members included the following:


-       The figures detailed in section 1.4 of the report refer to the full cost of the scheme, including Kent County Council, Police, Fire and Borough. The cost to TWBC was 10% of the total figure.

-       The figures included in the table at 1.10 of the report were earnings and did not include rental costs or any other benefits.

-       The Community Support Fund still existed but because there was no surplus in the in-year budget review, there was no money in it.

-       The Household Support Fund had just resumed and would run initially until March 2023, but it was hoped it would then run for further year. 

-       Details of how the scheme would run were dependent on discussions currently taking place at County level.  Once County had formulated their policy on how the scheme would be run, details would be disseminated to the Borough.  It would include whether the scheme would be managed entirely at County level or whether some functions would be delegated to be managed by the Borough. 

-       The Banded Scheme was easier to manage.  Many of the processes had now been automated and it was hoped that more functions would be automated from April 2023.  The scheme was far simpler both for officers and for claimants.

-       A family of 4  living in a Band D property would still be required to pay 75% of their Council Tax bill, which based on this year’s rates would be £1,500.00 (from a total of £2,032.00).  Based on an average monthly earnings total of £1,169.98, and an average rental cost of a 2 bedroom property of £1,426 per month, this amount was unaffordable.

-       It was recognised that this was a high amount, but there was a separate pot of money available that could be used for hardship cases.  Residents can apply direct to the Council for additional funding.

-       It was suggested the scheme in its current form was not fit for purpose. That a family earning £1,100 per month and where average rental costs were £1,400 per month, were still expected to pay 75% of their Council Tax Bill (Band D property).

-       Whilst other sources of funding were available, the onus was on the individual to be aware of this and to apply to the Council for additional support.

-       The award should be increased to those most in need. This would be a fairer way of ensuring that those who need it most were appropriately supported. 

-       It was further stated that it should be clear, the numbers contained within the report were total figures i.e. the cost to the Kent taxpayer and not the cost to the Tunbridge Wells taxpayer. 

-       It was not appropriate to provide a recommendation when the details were County wide and not specific to Tunbridge Wells.

-       When discussing Option 2 in the report, it was explained that a more generous scheme for claimants would have a significant financial impact for KCC, Police and Fire services who would need to fund the majority of the extra costs on behalf of taxpayers. These authorities already have budget deficits and a unilateral change to the CTRS scheme by TWBC would be met with an adverse reaction.


A recorded vote was requested on whether the Cabinet Advisory Board supported the recommendations to Cabinet as set out in the report:


Cllr Brice – For

Cllr Dawlings – For

Cllr Goodship – For

Cllr Knight – Against

Cllr Morton – Against

Cllr Pound – Against

Cllr Rogers – Against

Cllr Hayward – Against


For = 3

Against = 5


A recorded vote was requested to recommend that Option 2 be put forward to Cabinet (paragraph 2.2 of the main report) as follows:


“Option 2 – revise the current scheme.  This would require consultation with other preceptors and with those affected by any changes.  There could also be additional costs (a scheme that reduced residents’ liabilities from a maximum of 20 per cent to 15 per cent would cost the Kent taxpayer over £652,000) and could also result in the loss of the £150,000 payment to the Council from the major preceptors and possible additional payments to the Mid Kent Benefits Partnership arising.   A revised scheme would no longer be consistent with other councils in the West Kent Housing Market Area.”


Cllr Brice – Against

Cllr Dawlings – Against

Cllr Goodship – Against

Cllr Knight – Against

Cllr Morton – Against

Cllr Pound – For

Cllr Rogers – For

Cllr Hayward – Against


For = 2

Against = 6


A vote was taken to recommend that Option 3 be put forward to Cabinet (paragraph 2.3 of the main report) as follows:


“Options 3 – to maintain the existing scheme but explore ways in which the Council can support those who are eligible for support, on low incomes and/or affected by the cost of living crisis in other ways”.


For = 5

Against = 2


RESOLVED – That the recommendation to Cabinet as detailed in Option 3 as set out in the report be supported. 




Supporting documents: