Derbyshire Dales council extends tax discount for care leavers and Homes for Ukraine hosts

Care leavers struggling with the cost of living could be able to access more relief from Council Tax bills in future after a policy change at Derbyshire Dales District Council.

By Ed Dingwall
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 12:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 12:49 pm

The council allows people to apply for a discretionary discount in exceptional circumstances, and under newly-approved changes to the policy officers will have more flexibility in backdating support for aged 18 to 25 who were formerly in the care of a local authority.

A district spokesperson said: “The cost of discretionary discounts is borne wholly by this council, whereas we retain only around 14 per cent of Council Tax income, so awards must meet the underlying principle of offering value for money.

“This means that normally we will not grant local discounts unless there are very exceptional circumstances. However where the circumstances meet the policy criteria a discount may be granted.”

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Derbyshire Dales District Council is extending a helping hand to people in financial difficulty.

A report presented to the full council on April 27 set out the reason to change the previous criteria for care leavers, noting: “The restriction on backdating could be seen as unfair to those care leavers who might not have been made aware of the discounts available and/or the impact of a delay in making an application.

“Removing the cap on backdating care leaver discounts will increase costs to the council, the value of which is difficult to forecast. However, given discounts awarded in recent years and the changes proposed, the cost of this change is not expected to be significant.”

The policy is not only for the benefit of care leavers. Those qualifying for the discount could include households affected by national disasters and significant flooding events.

Others may be eligible if it is judged that they would “suffer undue financial hardship” if they had to pay the Council Tax without a discretionary discount in cases of unforeseen or exceptional circumstances that affect their homes or wellbeing.

Councillors also agreed to introduce a new appeals process for anyone ruled ineligible, and a new class of discount to offset any Council Tax increase related to the Homes for Ukraine scheme. For example, if a host household were to lose their single person discount due to more people living at the address.