An “independent” review is to examine how local Council Tax Support (LCTS) schemes are helping low-income families across the country, it has been announced today.
The review will be led by Eric Ollerenshaw OBE, a former council leader and Member of Parliament, who has been tasked to examine the effectiveness, fairness and transparency of newly created Council Tax Reduction schemes.
Mr Ollenshaw served as the Conservative MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood between 2010 to 2015, before losing his seat to Cat Smith of the Labour Party in the last General Election.
Before moving into politics, Mr Ollerenshaw was a full-time teacher of History and spent 30 years teaching in three comprehensive schools.
The Tory-led coalition government scrapped Council Tax Benefit in April 2013, handing local authorities the power to develop and administer their own schemes for local residents.
It’s abolition was supported by Mr Ollenshaw, which may lead to some people questioning just how “independent” the review of Council Tax Support schemes can be.
He has also consistently voted in favour of other welfare cuts and changes, including ‘Bedroom Tax’ and the controversial benefit cap.
However, Local Government Minister Marcus Jones welcomed the appointment of Mr Ollenshaw.
Mr Jones said: “As we continue our efforts to cut the deficit, we’re determined that support is available for those who need it most and councils, with their expert knowledge of their communities’ needs, are best placed to do this.
“That’s why we put power in the hands of local authorities to offer local Council Tax support to people in their area – this independent review is about understanding how this has been implemented over the past 2 years, and how areas could learn from each other.
“So I’m delighted that Eric Ollerenshaw, with his decades of experience at Hackney council, the Greater London Assembly and as a Member of Parliament, has agreed to chair this independent review.”
Review Chairman Eric Ollerenshaw OBE said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead on such an important review. The localisation of Council Tax support was a significant change implemented under the coalition government” he said.
He added: The review’s findings will be based firmly on evidence gathered from a diverse range of sources. I urge all interested parties to make sure their voices are heard by submitting evidence to the review team.
“I also intend to meet with a selection of local authorities to obtain on-the-ground insight into how LCTS has been delivered to date.”
Interested parties have been encouraged to submit evidence to the review.
The review team is particularly interested in hearing:
- what has been your experience of designing, implementing, or being the recipient of an LCTS scheme?
- what have been the main challenges, and how have these changed over time?
What impact has LCTS had on the following:
- local autonomy
- local finances and budgeting
- local residents
Evidence/responses should be submitted to [email protected] no later than Tuesday 12 January 2016.