Wokingham Borough Council has launched a review of the single person’s council tax discount to ensure those receiving the discount remain entitled to claim.
Currently received by over 18,000 people in the borough, the discount sees those living alone receive a 25% reduction on their council tax bill to reflect the reduced draw they have on local services compared to larger households.
“Over the past year there have been lots of changes to local households as well as increasing pressure on budgets. As such we felt it was time to review the single persons discount and make sure our records are up-to-date” said Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing, “Council tax income is critical to fund essential services which benefit all our residents so it’s important we make sure households contribute their fair share.”
Over the coming months the council will be working with Northgate Public Services to carry out residency checks on households that currently receive the discount. These will establish if they are still entitled to receive it or if further investigation is required.
A previous single person discount review identified a number of households incorrectly applying for reductions allowing over £450,000 in additional council tax to be collected each year.
Cllr Kaiser continued: “The majority of those claiming the single persons discount remain entitled to it and will be completely unaffected by this review. However there are a small minority of cases where personal circumstances have changed, such as where a lodger or a partner have moved in, and the household may not realise they can no longer claim.
“We also believe that there are residents living alone, whether from a recent change or longer term, who may not be aware of the discount and that they could be receiving several hundred pounds off their bill each year. Whilst these individuals won’t be identified through the review, as it only looks at those already claiming, we are keen to see them apply.
“I’d urge any council tax payers who know their circumstances have changed, or who are unsure if they may be eligible, to get in contact with the council to discuss. If their concern is a financial one our team are team are always happy to discuss options and there may be other discounts that the household qualifies for instead.”
Changes to circumstances that impact on a households eligibility for a single person discount (or any other council tax discount) need to be notified to the council within 21 days.
Any resident who thinks they may no longer be entitled to a council tax discount should contact: Wokingham Borough Council on 0118 974 6000 or email Ctax@wokingham.gov.uk
For those residents who would like more information on the various discounts or benefits that they may be entitled to claim can visit: http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/benefits/ and www.direct.gov.uk (for benefits)