How have councils changed the support available?
From April 2013, local authorities across England were given the power to devise their own systems of Council Tax Support (CTS) for working-age adults. It replaced the national system of the Council Tax Benefit (CTB) which ensured that the poorest households did not have to pay council tax.
In the first year of CTS the funding available from central government was 10% less than that available under the former system of CTB (which central government funded in full). This central government funding for CTS has now been combined with the general grant that local authorities receive and is subject to the same cuts.
Each year the local authority decides how CTS should work in their area. Now in its fourth year, 259 (of 326) councils require everyone to pay at least some council tax regardless of income, 9 more than last year and 30 more than in April 2013.
Changes over the past four years
From April 2016, only 41 councils (out of 326) are continuing to provide the levels of support available under the former Council Tax Benefit system, down from 58 in April 2013.
The most common change that local authorities have made from the former CTB system has been to introduce a “minimum payment” which requires everyone to pay at least some council tax regardless of income. From April 2016, 259 schemes include a minimum payment, up from 250 in April 2015, 245 in April 2014 and 229 in April 2013.
Along with a minimum payment, councils can make other changes to CTS. The graph below shows the number of councils that have introduced a particular change. Some local authorities introduced more than one new measure (for example reducing the second adult rebate and introducing a band cap), so councils may be counted more than once.