Kirklees Council is consulting on changes to its Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) which could see an increase in the bills of thousands of households.
Currently, Kirklees Council subsidises council tax payments for around 13.5k households at a cost of approximately £35.5m per year to the local authority. However, this level of support may be coming to an end with the council considering having all residents of working age pay a minimum percentage of their total council tax bill.
Due to its financial position, with the local authority forecasting a £20.3m overspend on its £380m budget for this financial year, options are being explored that could save the council some cash. If given the go ahead, these would come into force next year.
Extra demand for services like child protection and residential placements for children in care have been the main drivers for increased costs alongside social care for older people and residents with learning disabilities. Inflationary pressures on goods such as food for school catering services and IT equipment are also driving up costs for the council.
The council is considering two options that would see changes made to its current CTRS. One would see all residents of working age pay at least 25% of their bill, the other would see all working age households pay at least 15% of their bill. The amount of reduction would be dependent on income.
If the council were to implement the 25% minimum, it would make a saving of around £4.33m. If it went ahead with 15%, a saving of approximately £1.8m would be made.
A further option is to keep the policy the same which would mean that the 13.5k households that qualify would maintain the same council support and other residents of working age would continue to pay a minimum of 20% of their overall bill.
The council highlights that even with changes, it’s scheme would be better than or in line with those of neighbouring authorities. Wakefield residents pay a minimum of 30% of their council tax bills and the same goes for Bradford. Calderdale requires the smallest percentage, with residents paying a minimum of 19%.
Councillor Paul Davies, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “In these challenging times, we are committed to protecting our most vulnerable residents whilst ensuring that support is equitable and realistic. Our council tax reduction scheme currently provides more support than any other West Yorkshire Local Authority and, even with the potential changes, will remain better or in line with others.
“The proposed changes could mean that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money can be redirected to other vital council services and on providing continuing support for our lowest income households.
“A public consultation will allow residents to have their say on these proposals with a decision to be made ahead of the new financial year in April 2024.
“There are already provisions in place for those in severe hardship and that support will continue.”
The consultation will run for eight weeks and is accessible from the Kirklees Council website.