A chance to make things fairer for some Universal Credit claimants in Shropshire
We’ve been calling on Shropshire Council to introduce consistency for Income Based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants and Universal Credit claimants in their Council Tax Support Scheme exemptions. This will ensure that the most vulnerable people who are sick or disabled are protected from paying, regardless of which benefit (ESA vs Universal Credit) they receive.
Shropshire Council have agreed to explore making an amendment to their Council Tax Support Scheme in order to introduce equal protections for people claiming Universal Credit and ESA.
They have opened a public consultation and you can find out more about it here. If you would like to tell the Council whether you support or oppose the amendment, you can respond to the consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 11th December.
Please look at the table below for a break down of why we believe the current Council Tax Support Scheme rules are unfair for some Universal Credit claimants.
Whether you are in the ESA Support Group or the Universal Credit Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity Group, you will have the same circumstances and vulnerabilities – the only difference is you would be either claiming ESA or Universal Credit.
We agree with Shropshire Council that they need to make their Council Tax Support scheme fair for people on Universal Credit who are placed in the Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity Group and protect them from paying towards their Council Tax, just as they do for ESA claimants in the Support Group. People claiming Universal Credit (LCWWRAG) have been without this protection since April 2018 and our evidence indicates that paying towards their Council Tax is causing hardship for many.
Introducing this amendment is very important as Universal Credit is gradually replacing 6 benefits (including ESA) and from July 2019 more people will be moved on to Universal Credit as part of Managed Migration.
Shropshire Council need to ensure that their Council Tax Scheme works to protect the most vulnerable as soon as possible, but no later than April 2019, in order to prepare for Managed Migration and increased numbers of Shropshire residents receiving Universal Credit.
Please note this is just one of several elements within the Council Tax Support Scheme that we believe Shropshire Council could improve for local people. We will continue to discuss our concerns with Shropshire Council and work with them to try to secure further positive changes in the future.
Our research on the impact of changes to the Council Tax Support Scheme in Shropshire 2018/19
We have been speaking to people on benefits who have been asked to pay 20% towards their Council Tax for the first time this year. We want to understand the impact that this is having on them – have they found it easy, has it been hard, how have they made their budgets work to accommodate an additional bill that they didn’t have to pay last year?
If you would like to speak to us about your experience, please email email@example.com and we can arrange to call you and go through a quick survey to capture your experience, or post you a paper copy along with a prepaid returns label.
Alternatively, you can complete the survey online here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CouncilTx