In August 2007 the CLG Select Committee published its report about Council Tax
Benefit (CTB). Although the report does not contain any specific objective or terms
of reference, it would seem that its purpose is to make recommendations for improving
the take up of CTB. There is an assumption that this would make the Council Tax
system fairer. It is good to note that the CLG Select Committee acknowledge that
the present system is somewhat unfair. The Government views the poor take up of
CTB as a 'pensioner only' problem which isn't true. Due to the restrictive
nature of the rules governing CTB, some 600,000 children are below the poverty line
in households which are not eligible for any council tax benefit. At present, some
estimated £1.8bn of CTB remains unclaimed each year.
An improved take up of CTB and more generous rules is seen by many as the solution to the 'problems' associated with Council Tax. Whilst CTB is an important source of help to many, it is not the 'cure all panacea' that politicians would like us to believe and accept. It is somewhat perverse that a taxation system can only work because the Government effectively pays itself through CTB. If the tax took into account ability to pay and was levied fairly, then there would be no need for a benefit. Furthermore, the amount of uncollected tax would most likely be less, and without doubt, collection and administration costs would be much lower.
The Committee made 15 Conclusions and Recommendations for improving the take up rate of CTB. In October 2007 the Government published its response.
The CLG reports and the Government's response may be downloaded here (all links open in a new window):
If you want to find out if you are eligible to claim for CTB then please visit the DWP website - Council Tax Benefit.
This is a dual purpose form for both Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit. The form has been the subject of much criticism due to its length (40 pages) and detailed personal questions. However, if you want to claim the benefit, then you have to complete the form. A copy of the form may be downloaded here.
The latest report contains information on take-up relating to financial year 2007-08.
It contains key results for percentage take-up by caseload and expenditure, and
also includes estimates of the total and average amounts of benefit claimed and unclaimed.
The publication explores some of the reasons for non-take-up and includes the
position of those entitled to but not receiving benefits in the household income distribution
- as defined by the Households Below Average Income series. The report re-presents
statistics for 2006-07. The chapters are rounded off by exploring patterns in
caseload take-up for each benefit since 1997-98.
The report may be downloaded here.
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