NEW FIGURES SHOW EFFECT OF COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT POLICY

New figures unveiled in a series of Parliamentary questions has revealed the success of the Scottish Government and COSLA’s efforts to mitigate the UK Government’s cut to Council Tax Benefit.

The UK Government introduced a 10% cut to Council Tax Benefit in April this year, but because of a £40m joint funding intervention between the Scottish Government and COSLA, people in Scotland have not been subjected to the cut – unlike south of the border.

A series of Parliamentary answers has now made clear how this policy has benefitted vulnerable Scots. Finance Secretary John Swinney states that among the 560,000 people to benefit from this policy in Scotland:

·         216,900 households contain at least one person aged 65 or over
·         Around 70,100 people are on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), indicating they are likely to have an illness or a disability that affects their ability to work
·         Around 289,400 are single female households, of which around 85,000 have child dependants.

The figures are released amid reports south of the border of a rise in arrears as a result of the change, with reports of courts struggling to deal with the backlog of cases.

Welcoming today’s figures, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani – who sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee – said:

“These figures make clear the benefit to hundreds of thousands of Scots of the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable.

“Over half a million people on the lowest incomes in Scotland currently receive Council Tax Benefit – and decisive action from the Scottish Government and COSLA has ensured that they have not become the victims of this UK Government cut.

“But of course, these same people are almost certainly being affected by many of the other welfare cuts being imposed on Scotland by Westminster – ones which the Scottish Government, with its limited powers, can do nothing about.

“The Scottish Government should be able to offer more than just a sticking plaster for welfare cuts coming from south of the border. As last week’s detailed report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies made clear, independence will ‘provide Scotland with an opportunity to redesign our benefits system to reflect the priorities of the Scottish people’ and address some of the problems caused by Westminster’s policies.”

ENDS

For details of effect of the council tax benefit cut in England, see http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/council-tax-huge-queues-outside-2033516

Question S4W-16489: Sandra White, Glasgow Kelvin, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/07/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what impact its decision to protect funding for the council tax benefit successor scheme for 2013-14 will have on the incomes of households aged over 65.

Answered by John Swinney (02/08/2013):

Working in partnership with local government, we responded quickly to put in place transitional arrangements to plug the estimated £40 million gap in funding from the UK Government following their abolition of council tax benefit. This ensures that around 560,000 people in Scotland who were receiving council tax benefit are protected from the UK Government’s 10% cut in successor arrangement funding. This means that vulnerable people have the same net liability for council tax as if council tax benefit were still in place, provided their circumstances remain the same. This includes around 216,900 households containing at least one person aged 65 or over.

Question S4W-16477: Kevin Stewart, Aberdeen Central, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/07/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what impact its decision to protect funding for the council tax benefit successor scheme for 2013-14 will have on the incomes of households containing an adult receiving a disability-related benefit.

Answered by John Swinney (02/08/2013):

Working in partnership with local government, we responded quickly to put in place transitional arrangements to plug the estimated £40 million gap in funding from the UK Government following their abolition of council tax benefit. This ensures that around 560,000 people in Scotland who were receiving council tax benefit are protected from the UK Government’s 10% cut in successor arrangement funding. This means that vulnerable people have the same net liability for council tax as if council tax benefit were still in place, provided their circumstances remain the same. This includes around 70,100 people who are receiving employment and support allowance, indicating that they have an illness or disability that affects their ability to work.

Current Status: Answered by John Swinney on 02/08/2013

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT
WRITTEN ANSWER
2 August 2013

Index Heading: Governance and Communities

Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government  what impact its decision to protect funding for the council tax benefit successor scheme for 2013-14 will have on the incomes of single female households.
(S4W-16485)

Mr John Swinney MSP:

Working in partnership with Local Government, we responded quickly to put in place transitional arrangements to plug the estimated £40 million gap in funding from the UK Government following their abolition of Council Tax Benefit. This ensures that around 560,000 people in Scotland who were receiving Council Tax Benefit are protected from the UK Government’s 10% cut in successor arrangement funding. This means that vulnerable people have the same net liability for Council Tax as if Council Tax Benefit were still in place, provided their circumstances remain the same. This includes around 289,400 single female households, of which around 85,000 have child dependants.

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