Making welfare work locally: top tips to consider when reviewing council tax support schemes
We’ve pulled out eight key features from our second showcase that can make a real difference
- Get senior level commitment and leadership.
Ensure the right senior council leaders and voluntary sector stakeholders are visibly on board and can create buy-in from staff and foster partnership working at all levels.
- Tailor your consultations and communications to different audiences.
Local organisations, communities and residents personally affected by changes will need different information and will process information differently - so make sure you get across the right message in the right way
- Take into account your residents’ wider financial challenges.
Knowing how changes to benefits such as new housing benefit and sanctions rules are affecting them will help you to consider the best approach to take.
- Intervene early to support people in financial difficulty.
Making contact early and providing the right help such as budgeting advice or debt support can help residents to avoid building up arrears.
- Minimise additional costs for residents in debt.
Reducing court costs and avoiding bailiff action can help prevent debt problems from escalating and ensures action is not disproportionate to the level of liability.
- Link to relevant local policies.
Design and implement council tax support schemes in connection with other policies, such as discretionary housing payments and local social welfare, to make the best use of local
- Offer a wide range of payment methods and frequencies.
Rather than focusing exclusively on the method with the lowest upfront cost, encourage payment by allowing residents to pay in the way they find most convenient. This is likely to be more sustainable and cheaper in the long run.
- Consider making changes to council tax rules to raise additional revenue to help lower income households.
For example, a housing market that includes a lot of short term rentals can provide an opportunity to raise significant revenue through changes to empty property exemptions and second home discounts.