Still too poor to pay: council tax support in London 2018-19 | CPAG

Still too poor to pay: council tax support in London 2018-19

Post date: 
12 March 2020

In April 2013, the government abolished council tax benefit and replaced it with locally run council tax support schemes, accompanied by a 10 per cent cut in funding for local authorities. Since then, CPAG and Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K) have been monitoring the changes to the 33 different localised council tax support schemes in London and assessing the impact of these schemes – both on low-income Londoners and on local authorities.

This briefing analyses the data we received in response to the Freedom of Information (FOI) requests we made to the 32 London boroughs and the City of London.

We found that in 2018/19:

  • Eight boroughs and the City of London had no minimum payment. This increased to nine boroughs and the City of London in 2019/20.
  • Four boroughs and the City of London had a hardship fund specifically for council tax support claimants.
  • Six boroughs and the City of London used the controversial two-child limit to determine the entitlement of families under their council tax support schemes. One of these boroughs, Westminster, has dropped this policy for 2020-21. The total number of council tax support claimants fell from 640,664 in 2017/18 to 601,736 – a drop of 38,928.
  • 19,367 council tax support claimants were referred to bailiffs, up from 16,444 in 2017/18.
  • 76,475 council tax support claimants received court summons, down from 89,929 in 2017/18.
  • 103,168 council tax support claimants were in arrears, owing a total of £24.8 million in outstanding council tax. This compares with 100,798 claimants owing £18.2 million in 2017/18.

Over the past six years:

  • There has been an overall decrease of 222,164 in the number of council tax support claimants, a reduction of 27 per cent since 2013.
  • At least 574,748 summonses for non-payment of council tax have been issued to council tax support claimants.
  • At least 446,078 council tax support claimants have been charged £47.6 million in court costs.
  • At least 102,523 council tax support claimants have had their debts referred to bailiffs for enforcement.