Select Committee on Communities and Local Government Committee Eighth Report

4  Conclusions

75. Council tax benefit has a critical role to play in alleviating the financial burden of council tax on low-income households but it is currently not doing this effectively. There are two main reasons for this. First, the rules governing council tax benefit eligibility and entitlement are too restrictive to reduce adequately the burden of council tax upon those in greatest need of relief and, secondly, take-up is so low that relief is not reaching those it is intended to help.

76. Council tax benefit is not a social security benefit designed to provide income support to those in need yet it is still called a benefit and in many ways operates like one. Many of the criticisms levelled against council tax benefit stem from a sense of injustice arising from the fact that people who are entitled to a reduction in tax liability are not receiving it and a sense of unfairness because many low-income households are not entitled to relief. We call on the Government to change its approach towards council tax benefit to one which more accurately reflects its true nature as a reduction in tax liability. A useful start in this process would be to remove the 'benefit' label.

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