Discretionary Discount - Council Tax

Angela Richards made this Freedom of Information request to Rhondda Cynon Taff Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Rhondda Cynon Taff Council,

I refer to Local Government Finance Act 2003 Section 76 & Section 13A of the Local
Government Finance Act 1992.

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (LGFA) dwellings may be exempt
from Council Tax if they fall within one of the specified classes as set out in Section
4 of that act (SI 1992/558).

Billing Authorities did not have the discretion to grant any further discounts until
2003, when Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2003 inserted a new section
13A into the LGFA 1992. This gave Authorities a broad discretion to reduce the
amount of Council Tax payable. This power may be exercised in individual cases or
classes of cases.

Please could you tell me whether the Council exercises the discretion in individual cases rather than adopting a 'blanket policy'.

If not, why not?

If applicable, how many cases of discretionary discounts and what amounts has the Council allowed? Please provide details for the past 10 years or so.

What happens when a property comes under Sec G of the allowances?

How does the Council reach their decisions what what examinations do they carry out in individual cases.

Does the Council realise they might be 'fettering their discretion?

What might the Council do to avoid this and ensure that their processes are right and fair and lawful?

Yours faithfully,

Angela Richards

Dear Rhondda Cynon Taff Council,

Further to the above and just to clarify this:

'What happens when a property comes under Sec G of the allowances?'

Please explain what evidence is relied upon and how such claims are treated/processed.

What specific documentation or evidence is required from the applicant with such a property?

Sec G is for properties that are 'uninhabitable by law' please cite the law/ legislation that covers a property being deemed 'uninhabitable' i.e. Health and Safety etc.

Yours faithfully,

Angela Richards

Angela Richards left an annotation ()

OMBUDSMAN CRITICISES COUNCIL TAX DISCRETION REFUSAL

5 OCTOBER, 2006 Local Government Chronicle

A council's refusal to accept that it should exercise its discretionary power and consider a request from an individual for a discount on their council tax has been criticised by local government ombudsman Anne Seex.

In her report issued today against Redcar and Cleveland BC, Ms Seex found that the council failed to recognise this and fettered its discretion to reduce an individual's liability by having a 'blanket policy' that it would never allow a reduction.

The council decided in 2004 that all empty homes in its area should pay the maximum 90 per cent of council tax. 'Mr and Mrs Weaver' (real names not used for legal reasons) had bought a bungalow in the area shortly before the council's decision and renovated it but, after experiencing hostility from people in the area, they never moved in. When they received the bill for 90 per cent of the council tax Mrs Weaver wrote to explain her circumstances and ask for a reduction in council tax. The council refused, saying that the decision to set the empty policy discount at 10 per cent had been set at policy level and does not allow for any individual discretion.

'In the course of my investigation of Mrs Weaver's complaint the council has maintained that it does not have to consider individual requests for reductions,' said Ms Seex. 'Given the case law and legal principles about the duty of public authorities not to fetter their exercise of discretion, I find the council's stance to be inexplicable and, clearly, maladministration.'

The ombudsman concluded that the council must consider and reach a decision on Mrs Weaver's request and must establish internal arrangements for how such requests will be considered and decided in the future. She added that the council was free to reach any decision that it considers fit on any request, provided that it reaches such a decision properly.

Freedomofinformation, Rhondda Cynon Taff Council

Dear Ms Richards,

Thank you for your request for information.

Your request will be processed in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (or Environmental Information Regulations 2004, if it
relates to environmental information).

You should ordinarily expect to receive a response to your request no
later than 20 working days following the date of submission to the
Council. We will contact you should this not be the case.

Yours sincerely

Carfan Llywodraethu Corfforaethol / Corporate Governance Team
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol a Llywodraethol / for Director
of Legal & Democratic Services

show quoted sections

Dear Freedomofinformation,

Thank you for your response to my information request.

I look forward to hearing you within the time limit period.

Yours sincerely,

Angela Richards

Angela Richards

Dear Freedomofinformation,

I am still awaiting a response to my FOI request and ask you to note that by law it should be completed by yourselves by 7th March 2019.

I look forward to hearing from you within the time limit.

Yours sincerely,

Angela Richards

Freedomofinformation, Rhondda Cynon Taff Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Richards

We refer to your request in respect of Discretionary Discount on Council
Tax.

Please refer to the attachment for the Authority's response.

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request a review of the Council’s response. If you wish
to exercise this right, you must do so within 40 working days of the date
of this response. Please set out in writing your grounds and send your
appeal to Mrs Julie Llewellyn. She may be reached at
[1][email address] or at RCT CBC, The Pavilions, Clydach
Vale, Tonypandy, CF40 2XX.

Additionally you may, if you wish, find out more about the Freedom of
Information Act & Environmental Information Regulations from the
Information Commissioner at [2]http://www.ico.org.uk/

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol a Llywodraethol/for Director
of Legal & Democratic Services

show quoted sections

Angela Richards

Dear Freedomofinformation,

Thank you for your response.

Q1 - What is the Councils Policy please?

( please note throughout that Care Leavers are to be exempted in this request)

Q3 - To clarify - Has the Council had any Discretionary Council Tax Relief applications by individuals under Section13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 under its general policy?

Q4 - You stated - 'a property is considered to be exempt from
Council Tax if the occupation of that property is prohibited by law'.

To clarify - How is this considered ( evidentially) and under what specific Law is an occupation prohibited?

Q5 - To Clarify - Does the Council inspect the property being applied for exemption and if so who is responsible for doing so?

Also what evidence ( reports or whatever )is relied upon in order to make a lawful decision for exemption under Sec G?

What evidence is asked of from an individual to make this decision?

Q6 & Q7 - to further clarify

How would the Council ensure it doesn't 'fetter discretion' i.e. are full inquiries made as to individuals circumstances and each and every case examined lawfully? What is the step by step procedure please?

Q8 - My apologies I was indeed referring to Class G of the Council Tax Exempt Dwellings
Order.

You responded that If this were the case then the property would be exempt from council tax while these
conditions exist.

Please would you note Q4.

I trust this clarifies matters in order to assist you in providing me with the information I require.

Yours sincerely,

Angela Richards

Freedomofinformation, Rhondda Cynon Taff Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Richards

With reference to your email dated 5th March 2019, please refer to the
attachment for the Authority's response.

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request a review of the Council’s response. If you wish
to exercise this right, you must do so within 40 working days of the date
of this response. Please set out in writing your grounds and send your
appeal to Mrs Julie Llewellyn. She may be reached at
[1][email address] or at RCT CBC, The Pavilions, Clydach
Vale, Tonypandy, CF40 2XX.

Additionally you may, if you wish, find out more about the Freedom of
Information Act & Environmental Information Regulations from the
Information Commissioner at [2]http://www.ico.org.uk/

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol a Llywodraethol/for Director
of Legal & Democratic Services

show quoted sections

Dear Freedomofinformation,

Thank you for your response.

With regard to Q3 please could you tell me how many applications have been received and how many were successful.

With regard to Q4 I am aware of the instance you mention - so what other conditions would apply and what legislation would be involved? Please detail.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

Angela Richards

Freedomofinformation, Rhondda Cynon Taff Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Richards,

With reference to your email dated 12th March 2019, please refer to the
attachment for the Authority's response.

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request a review of the Council’s response. If you wish
to exercise this right, you must do so within 40 working days of the date
of this response. Please set out in writing your grounds and send your
appeal to Mrs Julie Llewellyn. She may be reached at
[1][email address] or at RCT CBC, The Pavilions, Clydach
Vale, Tonypandy, CF40 2XX.

Additionally you may, if you wish, find out more about the Freedom of
Information Act & Environmental Information Regulations from the
Information Commissioner at [2]http://www.ico.org.uk/

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance ar ran Cyfarwyddwr
Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol a Llywodraethol/for Director of Legal &
Democratic Services

show quoted sections

Angela Richards left an annotation ()

9.2 LEGISLATION
9.2.1

Local Government Finance Act 1992 (LGFA 1992): Section 4; Schedule 1

The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992 SI 1992/558, amended by SI 1992/2941, SI 1993/150, SI 1994/539, SI 1995/619, SI 1997/656, SI 1998/291, SI 1999/536, SI 1999/1522, SI 2000/424 (England), SI 2003/3121,SI 2005/ 2865 (England), SI 2006/2318, SI 2011/2581 and SI 2012/2965 (England).

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 SI 1992/613,

Part III, amended by SI 1992/3008 and SI 2012/3086 (England).

The Housing Act 1996 (Consequential Amendments) Order SI 1997/1997

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Sec 9 of the Valuation Appeal Guidance to Council Tax
p.73 Exempt Dwellings

https://www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk/wp-...

Angela Richards left an annotation ()

As a direct result of the FOI requests an E Petition has been published by the Assembly. Please support this. Thank you.

e-Petition: Council Tax - People are not 'just numbers': Local Authorities failures to exercise discretion in Council Tax cases

https://www.assembly.wales/en/gethome/e-...