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FOI Request - Discretionary Discount - Council Tax

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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:33 pm    Post subject:
FOI Request - Discretionary Discount - Council Tax
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ear Rhondda Cynon Taff Council,

I refer to Local Government Finance Act 2003 Section 76 & Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (LGFA) dwellings may be exempt from Council Tax if they fall within one of the specified classes as set out in Section 4 of that act (SI 1992/558).

Billing Authorities did not have the discretion to grant any further discounts until 2003, when Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2003 inserted a new section 13A into the LGFA 1992. This gave Authorities a broad discretion to reduce the amount of Council Tax payable. This power may be exercised in individual cases or classes of cases.

Please could you tell me whether the Council exercises the discretion in individual cases rather than adopting a 'blanket policy'.

If not, why not?

If applicable, how many cases of discretionary discounts and what amounts has the Council allowed? Please provide details for the past 10 years or so.

What happens when a property comes under Sec G of the allowances?

How does the Council reach their decisions what examinations do they carry out in individual cases.

Does the Council realise they might be 'fettering their discretion?

What might the Council do to avoid this and ensure that their processes are right and fair and lawful?

Yours faithfully,

DIT to add

ear Rhondda Cynon Taff Council,

Further to the above and just to clarify this:

'What happens when a property comes under Sec G of the allowances?'

Please explain what evidence is relied upon and how such claims are treated/processed.

What specific documentation or evidence is required from the applicant with such a property?

Sec G is for properties that are 'uninhabitable by law' please cite the law/ legislation that covers a property being deemed 'uninhabitable' i.e. Health and Safety etc.

Yours faithfully,

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/discretionary_discount_council_t


Last edited by Angela Wales on Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:06 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:24 pm    Post subject:
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:25 pm    Post subject:
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:22 pm    Post subject:
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OMBUDSMAN CRITICISES COUNCIL TAX DISCRETION REFUSAL

5 OCTOBER, 2006 Local Government Chronicle

A council's refusal to accept that it should exercise its discretionary power and consider a request from an individual for a discount on their council tax has been criticised by local government ombudsman Anne Seex.

In her report issued today against Redcar and Cleveland BC, Ms Seex found that the council failed to recognise this and fettered its discretion to reduce an individual's liability by having a 'blanket policy' that it would never allow a reduction.

The council decided in 2004 that all empty homes in its area should pay the maximum 90 per cent of council tax. 'Mr and Mrs Weaver' (real names not used for legal reasons) had bought a bungalow in the area shortly before the council's decision and renovated it but, after experiencing hostility from people in the area, they never moved in. When they received the bill for 90 per cent of the council tax Mrs Weaver wrote to explain her circumstances and ask for a reduction in council tax. The council refused, saying that the decision to set the empty policy discount at 10 per cent had been set at policy level and does not allow for any individual discretion.

'In the course of my investigation of Mrs Weaver's complaint the council has maintained that it does not have to consider individual requests for reductions,' said Ms Seex. 'Given the case law and legal principles about the duty of public authorities not to fetter their exercise of discretion, I find the council's stance to be inexplicable and, clearly, maladministration.'

The ombudsman concluded that the council must consider and reach a decision on Mrs Weaver's request and must establish internal arrangements for how such requests will be considered and decided in the future. She added that the council was free to reach any decision that it considers fit on any request, provided that it reaches such a decision properly.

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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:52 pm    Post subject:
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Dear Freedomofinformation,

Thank you for your response.

Q1 - What is the Councils Policy please?

( please note throughout that Care Leavers are to be exempted in this request)

Q3 - To clarify - Has the Council had any Discretionary Council Tax Relief applications by individuals under Section13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 under its general policy?

Q4 - You stated - 'a property is considered to be exempt from
Council Tax if the occupation of that property is prohibited by law'.

To clarify - How is this considered ( evidentially) and under what specific Law is an occupation prohibited?

Q5 - To Clarify - Does the Council inspect the property being applied for exemption and if so who is responsible for doing so?

Also what evidence ( reports or whatever )is relied upon in order to make a lawful decision for exemption under Sec G?

What evidence is asked of from an individual to make this decision?

Q6 & Q7 - to further clarify

How would the Council ensure it doesn't 'fetter discretion' i.e. are full inquiries made as to individuals circumstances and each and every case examined lawfully? What is the step by step procedure please?

Q8 - My apologies I was indeed referring to Class G of the Council Tax Exempt Dwellings
Order.

You responded that If this were the case then the property would be exempt from council tax while these
conditions exist.

Please would you note Q4.

I trust this clarifies matters in order to assist you in providing me with the information I require.

Yours sincerely,
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
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Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:45 pm    Post subject:
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Dear Freedomofinformation,

Thank you for your response.

With regard to Q3 please could you tell me how many applications have been received and how many were successful.

With regard to Q4 I am aware of the instance you mention - so what other conditions would apply and what legislation would be involved? Please detail.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,
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christine
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Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 5466
Location: Hampshire

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:08 pm    Post subject:
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ny more news on this Angela?

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Christine
Founder Isitfair
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:24 am    Post subject:
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he Council has not specified the legislation as I asked Christine. I have made enquiries elsewhere via the Assembly and am still awaiting a response on this. I will keep you posted. I am also consulting the Council Tax Handbook further.
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:46 am    Post subject:
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hristine I have e mailed you - no response required.
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Angela Wales



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 4403
Location: Wales / Cymru

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:39 pm    Post subject:
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Where an applicant is aggrieved by a decision of the billing authority which affects their entitlement to a reduction or the amount of any reduction they may appeal under section 16 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

As with all appeals under section 16 the person will need to write to the authority setting out the grounds on which they are aggrieved.

The person may only appeal to the Valuation Tribunal where: (a) they are notified in writing by the authority that it believes the grievance is not well founded, but they are still aggrieved; (b) they are notified in writing that steps have been taken to deal with the grievance, but they are still aggrieved; or (c) the period of two months, beginning with the date of service of their notice, has ended and they have not received notification under paragraph (a) or (b) above.


Localising Council Tax Administrative Matters Report 2013
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