"Older person" discount in council tax is shelved
by MATTHEW DOOLEY
Hillingdon Council has discontinued the Older People’s Discount on Council Tax with the passing of the 2021/22 budget last Thursday.
The Older People’s Discount (ODP), eligible to people over 65, granted a small discount on Council Tax. More significantly, the ODP kept tax rates frozen at the 2006 rate.
Households already on the scheme will not lose their discounts, they will, however, be subject to normal Council Tax increases. Anyone turning 65 after April 1 will no longer be eligible for the scheme.
Leader of Hillingdon Council, Councillor Ian Edwards, when asked why the Council had decided to discontinue the scheme said: “It needed to change because this was a burden that grows every year…what was a small cost to the council became a bigger and bigger legacy charge.”
When asked Labour’s position Councillor Stuart Mathers said: “As a group we have always been broadly in favour of the scheme which helps those older people in larger houses who are cash poor.”
Some residents took issue with the cut and in the budget, it was noted: “Where respondents expressed dissatisfaction with budget proposals, these primarily related to the Council Tax increase and the discontinuation of the Older People Discount…with no other reason attracting more than one response.”
Hillingdon Council commissioned an Equality and Humans Rights Impact Assessment on the policy change. The report found that the change would impact 16,000 Hillingdon Households.
The assessment claimed that Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), a Council Tax discount scheme for financially vulnerable households, would act as a “safety net” for “any residents who may be potentially financially negatively affected by this proposal.”
The Hillingdon Budget report shows that the scheme has cost the Council £1.7 million in the 2020/21 fiscal year and was projected to cost £2 million in the current year, a rise of approximately £300,000.