Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Governance
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Cabinet Member approved the policy for the administration of the Council’s Council Tax (Energy) Rebate Discretionary Scheme as set out in Appendix 1 to this report.
Eligibility criteria for the Discretionary scheme
The government has provided a limited amount of funding for a discretionary scheme to enable the Council to provide support to other energy bill payers who are not eligible under the terms of the mandatory scheme, or to provide carefully targeted ‘top-up’ payments to the most vulnerable households in bands A to D.
Funding of £150 per household will be made available for the following categories in relation to domestic properties within the Peterborough City Council area:
A. Householdsin bandsE toH who meet at least one of the following criteria on 1st April:
· inreceipt of working ageLocal CouncilTax Reduction.
· in exempt class N, S, U or W
· in receipt of a disabled person’s band reduction
B. Households in properties on 1st April that are classified as Housing in Multiple Occupation where the property owner is liable for the council tax, but the occupiers are liable forthe energybill. Only one payment will be made per property.
C. Households on 1st April in bands E-H that can demonstrate exceptional financial hardship and in receipt of one of the following:
a. A means tested benefit or council tax support (eg Universal Credit, Pension Credit)
b. A disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance)
A household that has already received a payment under the mandatory scheme cannot receive a further payment under categories A-C above.
In addition, discretionary Top Up payments willbe madein thefollowing circumstance.
Households in receipt of working age Local Council Tax Reduction on 1 April 2022 who have already received a payment under the mandatory scheme or are eligible under section A above.
The amount to be paid under section D will be determined based on available funding once all eligible payments under sections A, B and C have been made.
No payment will be made in respect of empty or second homes.
Once all funding has been allocated no further awards under this scheme will be made. This means that if a household is subsequently identified (either by the Council or by the occupier) as eligible under category A-D after all funds have been allocated then no award will be possible under this scheme.
Other criteria were also considered when developing the Policy. These were:
· Extending support to all occupiers of band E-H properties. There are in excess of 7,700 such properties in Peterborough, meaning the maximum support available would be £55 per household. Households in bands E-H in exceptional hardship will be supported, where the hardship is confirmed by the receipt of a means tested benefit;
· Removing the eligibility date of 1st April and extending this to any period in 2022/23. This would result in these households potentially receiving multiple awards, if payments had been made either in Peterborough or another local authority area under the main scheme;
· Provide additional support to single person households, as energy costs are potentially a disproportionately higher percentage of their overall household income. There are in excess of 28,000 such households in Peterborough, so any individual award would be too low to be meaningful;
· Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) were excluded under the main scheme. Awarding support to landlords was considered, but this is not in line with the government guidance for where this support should be targeted. Support to tenants who are liable for energy costs has instead been included;
· Empty properties and second homes were not included in the main scheme, but as with HMOs these are not considered eligible under the discretionary scheme; &
· Extending support for pension age households in receipt of local council tax support was considered for categories A and D, but working age were considered to better fulfil the criteria for support under the guidance due to the local working age scheme having a 33% reduction, compared to full support already available for pension age households. Those in bands E-H may still be eligible under category C.
These options were all considered, but not included in the final policy due to either not being eligible under the government criteria or because the criteria in categories A-D better target those considered most at risk of suffering financial hardship. As the level of funding under this scheme is only £429,000, the overall number of eligible households has to be restricted to those most in need to ensure that any payment is effective. Based on forecasts the top up payment in category D is expected to be no more than £55.
Publication date: 16/09/2022
Date of decision: 16/09/2022
Effective from: 23/09/2022