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.