Council Tax, Business Rates and other services

Council Tax, Business Rates and other services
Council Tax,
Business Rates
and other services

Council Tax, Business Rates and other services
Contents                                                                                  Leader’s message
     Leader’s message                                                       3
                                                                                               Welcome to this latest guide to council tax,
     How your money is spent                                                4                  business rates and the council’s budget.
     Your council tax                                                       5                  It explains how council tax is raised, where the council’s
     Your business rates                                                    9                  budget comes from, and how money is spent on
                                                                                               providing services for you. You will also find advice
     Your information                                                       13                 about what to do if you need help with paying your bill
     Financial information                                                  14                 or with your rent.

     Are you entitled to benefits?                                          16                 As you may be aware from reports in the press the
                                                                                               council needs to find a further £43m of savings by
     Free school meals and clothing grants                                  19
                                                                                               2017. The government recently announced how much
     Do it online                                                           Back page          money it will give to the council for 2015/16 and
                                                                                               suggested how much this would be in the coming years.

                                                                                               This grant from the government is around 35% of the council’s budget while council

Contact us...
                                                                                               tax is 44%. The council is now able to keep up to half of the business rates it collects
                                                                                               in the borough with the remainder going to central government

                                                                                               Unlike other organisations the council can’t borrow to fund its budget so we need to
For further information about details in this booklet, please contact the following offices:   balance how much we spend with how much we get in.

Council tax                                    Information that we keep about you              The recent Council budget meeting has put forward a series of proposals to meet this
Tel: 01204 331599                              Email:              budget shortfall. But we have taken the decision not to raise the rate of Council Tax
Email:               Write to: Corporate Information Manager,        this year, but find the money from other means.
Write to: PO Box 32, Bolton BL1 1RX            Bolton Council, 1st Floor, Town Hall,
                                               Bolton BL1 1RU                                  Despite the challenging economic situation the council is able to use one off money to
Business rates                                                                                 improve Bolton town centre and other areas.
Tel: 01204 331730                              For Council Tax Support Fraud
Email:            (CTS) only                                      The choices which we have to make in order to find this level of savings are very
Write to: PO Box 32, Bolton BL1 1RX            Tel: 01204 331590                               difficult but the council remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable children
                                               Email:            and adults; and supporting the local economy.
Benefits, free school meals and                Write to: PO Box 4,
school clothing allowances                     Town Hall, Bolton BL1 1RX
Tel: 01204 331590                                                                              Councillor Cliff Morris
Email:           National benefit fraud hotline                  Leader of the Council
Write to: PO Box 4, Bolton BL1 1RX             (not including CTS fraud)
                                               Tel: 0800 854 440.
                                               Write to: NBFH, PO Box 224,
                                               Preston PR1 1GP

Alternatively, you can visit our website
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Council Tax, Business Rates and other services
How your money is spent                                                                      Your council tax
No one likes receiving a bill, but it helps if   •   Housing benefits                        Council tax bands
you know how your money is being spent.          •   Planning and building control           The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is responsible for setting the bands which are based
Bolton Council collects your bin of course,      •   Community centres and youth centres     on property values at 1 April 1991. Your council tax bill shows which band your
but did you know that the council also           •   Helping to regenerate Bolton            property is in.
provides a wide range of other services
that we all rely on throughout our lives?        Part of the council tax you pay also goes
                                                 to Greater Manchester Police and the
Here are some of the services that               Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue           Council tax charge 2015/16 and valuation band ranges
your council tax and business rates              Authority to help pay for the police and
contributes to:                                  fire services. Some money is also paid         Band                          Bolton       Blackrod      Horwich       West’ton
• Emptying your bins                             out to other organisations such as the                                       Charge       Charge        Charge        Charge
• Recycling                                      Passenger Transport Authority to help
• Keeping Bolton’s streets clean                 pay for public transport.                     A    £40,000 or less           £990.99      £1,010.84     £1,008.46     £1,001.62
• Maintaining and repairing roads and                                                          B    £40,001 to £52,000        £1,156.17    £1,179.32     £1,176.56     £1,168.58
  bridges                                        There is more information on how
                                                                                               C    £52,001 to £68,000        £1,321.33    £1,347.79     £1,344.63     £1,335.51
• Providing libraries and art galleries          your money is spent on pages 14
• Leisure facilities including swimming          and 15 of this booklet.                       D    £68,001 to £88,000        £1,486.50    £1,516.27     £1,512.71     £1,502.45
  pools, sports centres and parks                                                              E    £88,001 to £120,000       £1,816.82    £1,853.21     £1,848.85     £1,836.31
• Caring for children, the elderly and           Where does the council’s money
                                                                                               F    £120,001 to £160,000      £2,147.16    £2,190.16     £2,185.02     £2,170.20
  other vulnerable people                        come from?
• Children’s services, such as schools,          Bolton Council’s net budget requirement       G    £160,001 to £320,000      £2,477.49    £2,527.11     £2,521.17     £2,504.07
  children’s centres, before and after           for 2015/16 is £206m. Out of this £72m        H    £320,001 or more          £2,973.00    £3,032.54     £3,025.42     £3,004.90
  school clubs and youth services                or 35% comes from central government
• Traffic management and road safety             in the form of grants. Your council tax
• Making sure that consumers are                 contributes £90m or 44% and your
  protected against dangerous goods              business rates contribute £44m or 21%
• Registering births, deaths and                 of the available money we have to spend     Banding appeals                              Please note
  marriages                                      on services.                                If you think your band may be wrong, you     You must continue to pay your council tax
                                                                                             can ask the Valuation Office to review it:   bill while you have any banding query or
                                                                                                                                          appeal pending with the Valuation Office.
                                                                                             Manchester Valuation Office
                                                                                             17th Floor Portland Tower                    Further information is available at
                                                                                             Portland Street, Manchester M1 3LD 
                                                                                             Tel: 03000 501501

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Your council tax continued...
Scam alert                                       is counted then a 25% discount can be      for the council tax on the main dwelling.     a period of up to 3 months, so there will
Trading Standards advise caution if you          claimed                                    Please contact the council tax office for     be no charge.
receive a call from anyone saying you are      • If none of the adults living at your       further details if you think you may be
in the wrong council tax band or you are         address are counted then a 50%             entitled to this discount.                    After 3 months and up to 6 months –
entitled to a refund of council tax. The         discount can be claimed and in some                                                      if the property remains unoccupied and
caller will charge a fee and some have           cases an exemption may apply - see         Reductions for people with                    unfurnished a 25% discount will be given
given misleading information including           Exemptions for occupied properties         disabilities                                  so the council tax charge will be 75% of
false claims that:                             • If you have a second home that is          If there is a room, extra space or an         the full charge for the property.
• They are from the council or other             provided under a contract of               additional bathroom or kitchen in your
   official body                                 employment then a 50% discount can         property that is needed by a disabled         After 6 months and up to 2 years – if
• They are working with the police               be claimed                                 person who lives there, you may get a         the property remains unoccupied and
• It will cost you more to challenge your                                                   reduction in your council tax. This           unfurnished no discount will be given so
   tax band on your own                        Adults who are not counted                   reduction is the equivalent of your band      the full council tax charge will payable for
• The council or VOA will not help you         Here are examples of people who are not      being reduced to the one below, or by a       the property.
                                               counted:                                     sixth if your property is in a band A.
Remember that:                                 • Full-time students, student nurses,                                                      After 2 years – when the property has
• Nobody can guarantee you a lower               apprentices and those people under 25      Exemptions for occupied properties            been unoccupied and unfurnished for 2
  council tax band                               on youth training schemes                  • Occupied only by people under 18            years then a 50% premium will be
• The vast majority of bandings are            • People permanently resident in hospital    • Occupied only by people who are full-       payable on top of the full charge. This will
  correct                                        or in care homes                             time students or student nurses             mean that a 150% charge will be payable.
• It’s free to challenge or enquire about      • People who are severely mentally           • Occupied only by people who are
  your council tax band                          impaired                                     severely mentally impaired                  However, the 50% premium should not
• These companies do little more than          • Carers - people living with and caring     • Where the property is part of another       be charged on any property that:
  what you can do for yourself for free          for someone who is not their spouse,         property and a dependant relative lives     • Would be the sole or main residence of
                                                 partner or child under 18                    in it, such as a ‘granny flat’ or annex.      a person in the armed forces who is
If you think you have been misled,             • 18 or 19 year olds who are still at                                                        posted away from home; or
report it to Trading Standards                   school or college or have just left        Unoccupied properties                         • Is an annex to a property that is being
on 03454 040506.                               • 18 year olds for whom child benefit is                                                     used as part of the main residence of
                                                 still being paid                           Second homes and properties which               the main dwelling.
Charge appeals                                 • Members of religious communities,          are unoccupied and furnished
If you think that either you or your             such as monks or nuns                      There is no discount on these properties      Please contact the council tax office if
property should not be subject to a            • People staying in hostels or night         whilst they remain furnished. This means      your property falls into either of these
council tax charge, you may appeal to the        shelters                                   that a full (100%) charge will be payable.    categories so that we can cancel any
council tax office.                            • People in prison or detention (except                                                    premium that you have been charged.
                                                 those in prison for non-payment of         Unoccupied and unfurnished
Discounts for occupied properties                council tax or a fine)                     properties                                    Unoccupied and unfurnished
If you have already been awarded a                                                          The following discounts and charges apply     properties that are undergoing or
discount it will show on your bill.            Discount for annexes                         based on when your property first became      requiring major repairs or alterations
• If you are the only adult (over 18) living   This is a 50% discount for annexes           unoccupied and unfurnished:                   Where a property requires or is
    at your address, you can claim a 25%       that are either being used as part of the                                                  undergoing major repairs or structural
    discount off your bill                     main residence or are occupied by            The first 3 months – a 100% discount          alterations, a discount of 100% for up to
• If only one adult living at your address     relatives of the person who is responsible   will be given from the date of vacation for   12 months can be claimed.

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Your council tax continued...                                                                 Your business rates
Unoccupied properties that are                Changes in circumstances                        Business rates                                   The valuation officer may alter the value if
exempt                                        Please note: You must inform the                The non-domestic rates, or business              circumstances change. You (and certain
• Properties owned by a charity are           council tax office, within 21 days, of any      rates, are the way that those who occupy         others who have an interest in the property)
  exempt for up to six months from            changes that affect your charge or your         non-domestic property contribute                 can appeal against the value if you believe
  vacation providing that when they were      right to a discount, reduction or               towards the cost of local services. Under        it is wrong. The Government has
  last occupied they were being used for      exemption. If you fail to do this you may       the business rates retention arrangements        announced there will be limits on the
  the purpose of the charity.                 be required to pay a penalty of £70.            introduced from 1 April 2013, authorities        backdating of changes to rating
• Properties left empty by someone who                                                        keep a proportion of the business rates          assessments with effect from 1 April 2015.
  is a permanent resident in a hospital,      Paying your council tax                         paid locally. This provides a direct financial   If the Valuation Office Agency receive your
  residential or nursing home or in           You have the choice of paying your              incentive for authorities to work with local     appeal on or after 1 April 2015 then the
  prison/detention                            council tax over 10 or 12 months.               businesses to create a favourable local          earliest they can back date any changes is
• Properties left empty by someone who        We also offer other alternatives such as        environment for growth since authorities         that date. The billing authority can only
  has left to receive care from another       weekly, fortnightly and lunar monthly (i.e.     will benefit from growth in business rates       back-date any business rates rebate to
  person                                      every 4 weeks) instalments by direct            revenues. The money, together with               that same date. You will continue to have
• Properties left empty by someone            debit, these can be set up on our website       revenue from council tax payers, revenue         your full legal rights to appeal your rating
  providing care for another person           or by telephone.                                support grant provided by the                    assessment.
• Properties left empty that were last                                                        Government and certain other sums, is
  occupied by a full-time student who is      Please contact the council tax office,          used to pay for the services provided by         The Valuation Office Agency will continue
  the owner or leaseholder                    within 14 days of receiving your bill, if you   your local authority and other local             to fulfil their legal obligations to alter rating
• Properties left empty because someone       wish to change the frequency or method          authorities in your area. Further                assessments if new information comes to
  has died are exempt where probate has       of paying your instalments.                     information about the business rates             light indicating the valuation is inaccurate.
  yet to be made and for up to six                                                            system, including transitional and other         Any alterations they make on or after
  months after probate has been granted       Problems paying                                 reliefs, may be obtained at           1 April 2016 can only be backdated to
• Properties left empty because they          If you are having problems paying your                                                           1 April 2015.
  have been repossessed or are the            council tax, please contact us as soon as       Rateable value
  responsibility of a trustee in bankruptcy   possible. We are able to make special           Apart from properties that are exempt            Further information about the grounds on
• Properties left empty because               arrangements if you are having financial        from business rates, each non-domestic           which appeals may be made and the
  occupation is not allowed by law            difficulties.                                   property has a rateable value which is set       process for doing so can be found on the
• Properties waiting to be occupied by a                                                      by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an website or obtained from
  minister of religion                        If you don’t contact us or pay on time,         agency of Her Majesty’s Revenue and              your local valuation office.
                                              further action will be taken which may          Customs. Their full list of all rateable
Discretionary Reduction Scheme                lead to additional costs being added to         values is available on their website at          National non-domestic rating multiplier
Discretionary reductions to council tax can   your account.                                         The council works out the business rates
be made if you can show you need extra                                                        ations/valuation-office-agency. The              bill by multiplying the rateable value of the
help or you are affected by changes to the    Further information can be found on our         rateable value of your property is shown         property by the appropriate multiplier.
council tax support scheme or the             website on the council tax - problems           on the front of your bill. This broadly          There are two multipliers; the standard
additional charges for unoccupied             paying page. Alternatively, contact details     represents the yearly rent the property          non-domestic rating multiplier and the
properties. Please contact the council tax    for the council tax office can be found on      could have been let for on the open              small business non-domestic rating
office if you wish to discuss this.           page 2 of this booklet.                         market on a particular date. For the             multiplier. The former is higher to pay for
                                                                                              revaluation that came into effect on 1st         small business rate relief. The government
                                                                                              April 2010, this date was set as 1st April       sets the multipliers for each financial year
                                                                                              2008.                                            for the whole of England, according to
                                                                                                                                               formulae set by legislation.
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Your business rates continued...
Between revaluations, the multipliers          2017 has no effect on the total amount of      authority has discretion in certain cases to    However, the Government has introduced
change each year in line with the Retail       revenue raised from business rates.            award relief in respect of the unoccupied       additional support to small businesses.
Price Index in September of the previous                                                      part. Full details can be obtained from the     For those businesses that take on an
year and to take account of the cost of        Empty properties                               business rates office.                          additional property which would normally
small business rate relief. The calculation    Business rates will not be payable in the                                                      have meant the loss of small business
of the multipliers has taken account of the    first three months that a property is          Small business rate relief                      rate relief, the Government has confirmed
Government’s decision in the Autumn            empty. This is extended to six months in       Ratepayers who are not entitled to              that they will be allowed to keep that relief
Statement 2014 to cap the inflation            the case of certain industrial properties.     another mandatory relief or are liable for      for a period of 12 months.
increase to 2% in 2015-16. The current         After this period, rates are payable in full   unoccupied property rates and occupy a
multipliers are shown on the front of your     unless the unoccupied property rate has        property with a rateable value of less than     An application for Small Business Rate
bill.                                          been reduced by the government by              £18,000 will have their bills calculated        Relief is not always required. If you think
                                               order. In most cases, the unoccupied           using the lower small business non-             that you meet the eligibility criteria and
Business Rates Instalments                     property rate is zero for properties owned     domestic rating multiplier.                     you have not received the relief then
Payment of business rates is usually over      by charities and community amateur                                                             contact the business rates office.
10 monthly instalments. However, you           sports clubs. In addition, there are a         In addition, if the sole or main property is    Provided the ratepayer continues to
can ask for your instalments to be spread      number of exemptions from the                  shown on the rating list with a rateable        satisfy the conditions for relief which apply
over 12 months to help with cash flow. If      unoccupied property rate. Full details on      value of £12,000 or below, the ratepayer        at the relevant time as regards the
you wish to take this up this offer, please    exemptions can be obtained from the            will receive a percentage reduction in their    property and the ratepayer, they will
contact the business rates office.             business rates office. If the unoccupied       rates bill for this property. The maximum       automatically continue to receive relief in
                                               property rate for the financial year has       reduction is 50% for a property with a          each new valuation period.
Revaluation 2017                               been reduced by order, it will be shown        rateable value of not more than £6,000.
All rateable values are reassessed at a        on the front of your bill.                     The Government has announced, in the            Certain changes in circumstances will
general revaluation to ensure bills paid by                                                   Autumn Statement 2014, that the                 need to be notified to the local authority
any one ratepayer reflect changes over         The Government has introduced a new            doubling of the usual level of relief - to a    by the ratepayer (other changes will be
time in the value of their property relative   temporary measure for unoccupied new           maximum of 100% - will continue for a           picked up by the local authority). The
to others. This helps maintain fairness in     builds from October 2013. Unoccupied           further year, until 31st March 2016.            changes which must be notified are:
the rating system by updating valuations       new builds will be exempt from                                                                 (a) the ratepayer taking up occupation of
in line with changes in the market. The        unoccupied property rates for up to 18         This reduction/relief is available to           an additional property, and
current rating list is based on the 2010       months (up to state aid limits) where the      ratepayers who occupy either:                   (b) an increase in the rateable value of a
revaluation. The Government has                property comes on to the list between          (a) one property, or                            property occupied by the ratepayer in an
confirmed that the next revaluation will       1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016.          (b) one main property and other additional      area other than the area of the local
take place in 2017 based on rental values      The 18 month period includes the initial 3     properties providing those additional           authority which granted the relief.
at 1 April 2015. More information on           or 6 month exemption and so properties         properties each have a rateable value of
revaluation 2017 can be found at:              may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-        less than £2,600.                               Full details on the eligibility criteria and on              domestic rates for up to an extra 15 or                                                        how to apply for this relief are available
ns/valuation-office-agency                     12 months.                                     The rateable value of the property              from the business rates office.
                                                                                              mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable
In the year of revaluation the multipliers     Partly occupied property relief                value of all the properties mentioned in (b),   Charity and Community Amateur
are rebased to account for overall             A ratepayer is liable for the full non-        must be under £18,000 on each day for           Sports Club (CASC) relief
changes to total rateable value and to         domestic rate whether a property is            which relief is being sought. If the rateable   Charities and registered CASCs are
ensure that the revaluation does not raise     wholly occupied or only partly occupied.       value, or aggregate rateable value,             entitled to 80% relief where the property
extra money for Government. Similarly,         However, where a property is partly            increases above those levels, relief will       is occupied by the charity or the club, and
the change in the revaluation date to          occupied for a short time, the local           cease from the day of the increase.             is wholly or mainly used for the charitable
10                                                                                                                                                                                         11
Your business rates continued...                                                             Your information
purposes of the charity (or of that and        the De Minimis Regulations EC                 Data protection                              To find out more about the council’s
other charities), or for the purposes of the   1407/2013. The De Minimis Regulations         In order to operate efficiently, Bolton      commitment and how we process your
club (or of that and other CASCs).             allow an undertaking to receive up to         Council has to collect and use information   personal data and keep it secure visit the
The local authority has discretion to give     €200,000 ‘de minimis’ aid over a rolling      about people we provide services to, and     councils website,
further relief on the remaining bill. Full     three year period. If you are receiving, or   others we have contact with. These may       email:
details can be obtained from the business      have received, any ‘de minimis’ aid           include members of the public, current,      or contact:
rates office.                                  granted during the current or two
                                                                                             past and prospective employees, clients      Corporate Information Manager,
                                               previous financial years (from any source),
                                                                                             and customers, and suppliers. We may         Corporate Information Unit,
Retail Discounts                               you should inform the local authority
                                                                                             share information you provide to us, such    Bolton Council, 1st Floor,
The Government is giving funding to local      immediately with details of the aid
authorities so that they can provide a         received.                                     as council tax and benefits data, within     Town Hall, Bolton BL1 1US
discount worth up to £1,000 a year, in                                                       the council and with government bodies
2014-15 and up to £1,500 in 2015-16, to        Hardship relief                               and other authorities, where it is           For more information about data
retail premises with a rateable value of up    The local authority has discretion to give    necessary and the law allows it, to ensure   protection contact:
to £50,000. This will provide support to       hardship relief in specific circumstances.    better service delivery, and to meet legal   Information Commissioner’s Office,
premises including pubs, cafes,                Full details can be obtained from the         obligations.                                 Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
restaurants and shops.                         business rates office.                                                                     Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
                                                                                             This personal information must be            Tel: 01625 545745
The Government is also giving funding to       Rating advisers                               handled and dealt with properly, however     Website:
local authorities so that they can provide     Ratepayers do not have to be                  it is collected, recorded and used, and
a 50% discount for 18 months for those         represented in discussions about their        whether it be on paper, in computer
businesses that move into retail premises      rateable value or their rates bill. Appeals   records or recorded by any other means,
that have been empty for a year or more.       against rateable values can be made free      and there are safeguards within the
This is available for businesses which         of charge. However, ratepayers who do         council to ensure this.
move into empty premises between               wish to be represented should be aware
1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016. Full           that members of the Royal Institution of      Bolton Council regards the lawful and
details can be obtained from the business      Chartered Surveyors (RICS – website:          correct treatment of personal information
rates office.                         and the Institute of            as very important to its successful
                                               Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV –         operations and to maintaining confidence
Local Discounts                                website: are qualified and      between the council and those with
Local authorities have a general power to      are regulated by rules of professional
                                                                                             whom it carries out business. The council
grant discretionary local discounts. Full      conduct designed to protect the public
                                                                                             will ensure that it treats personal
details can be obtained from the business      from misconduct. Before you employ a
                                                                                             information lawfully and correctly.
rates office.                                  rating adviser, you should check that they
                                               have the necessary knowledge and
State Aid                                      expertise, as well as appropriate             Bolton Council promises to process your
The award of such discounts is                 indemnity insurance. Take great care and,     personal data in accordance with the
considered likely to amount to state aid.      if necessary, seek further advice before      Data Protection Act 1998 and other
However it will be state aid compliant         entering into any contract.                   relevant legislation.
where it is provided in accordance with

12                                                                                                                                                                                 13
Financial information
How the council tax has changed                                                          £m    Reasons for the decrease in Bolton’s net budget requirement
2014-15 Band D council tax                                              £1,486.50              Inflation pressures
Equivalent number of Band D properties                                     69,162
                                                                                                                                                                  £m         £m
Band D council tax multiplied by number of properties equals:
                                                                                               Adult Services                                                     1.7
                                                                                               Children’s Services                                                0.9
Total council tax levy 2014-15                                                         102.8
                                                                                               Environmental Services                                             0.5
                                                  Gross    Net budget    Change from
                                             Expenditure      2015-16        2014-15           Development and Regeneration                                       0.3
2015-16 net budget requirement                       £m           £m              £m
                                                                                               Housing                                                            0.1
Adult Services                                 113.5           72.8            2.9             Central including transport and waste disposal levies              0.3
Children’s Services                            305.6           53.3            1.1             Capital financing                                                  0.0
Environmental Services                          79.4           28.6            0.7             Total                                                                          3.8
Development and Regeneration                    13.3           13.4            0.3
Housing                                          6.7            2.4            0.1             Demand pressures
Central including transport and                196.6           62.2            0.6
                                                                                               Adult Services                                                     1.2
waste disposal levies
                                                                                               Children’s Services                                                0.2
Capital financing                                11.6         11.6             0.0
                                                                                               Environmental Services                                             0.2
Savings                                         -23.6        -23.6           -23.6
                                                                                               Development and Regeneration                                       0.0
                                               703.1         220.7                             Housing                                                            0.0
Total decrease in net budget requirement                                               -17.9   Central including transport and waste disposal levies              0.3
2015-16 External finance                                                                       Capital financing                                                  0.0
Revenue support grant and business rates top up                72.4          -19.8             Total                                                                          1.9
Retained business rates                                        43.5            1.6
Collection Fund Surplus                                         0.5            0.0             Inflation and demand pressures                                                5.7
                                                                                               Savings                                                                     -23.6
Total decrease in external finance                           116.4                      18.2   Total decrease                                                              -17.9

Precept for Bolton Council                                     89.6            1.0                                                                           Precept       Band D
Other precepts                                                                                                                                                          council tax
   Greater Manchester Police Authority                         10.7            0.2             Parish precepts - an additional charge for 2015-16:
   Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority                 4.0            0.0             Blackrod                                                   53,858           29.77
Total increase in precepts                                                               1.2   Horwich                                                   185,836           26.21
                                                                                               Westhoughton                                              130,750           15.95
Total council tax levy 2015-16                                                         104.3
                                                                                               For comparison the 2014-15 parish precepts were:
Equivalent number of Band D properties                                                         Blackrod                                                   49,900           28.24
Total council tax levy by number of properties equals:                    70,176               Horwich                                                   185,386           26.64
                                                                                               Westhoughton                                              129,049           15.95
Band D council tax 2015-16                                               1,486.50

14                                                                                                                                                                               15
Are you entitled to benefits?
Local Council Tax Support                      page 2) or you can get a personalised            Electronic Payment                            are ignored until you reach your LHA
You can apply for Council Tax Support if       calculation using the online calculator at       If you receive housing benefit or local       anniversary date.
you are in receipt of state benefits and also              housing allowance and are currently paid
if you are on a low income.                                                                     by cheque you can ask for payments to be      For more information please see the
                                               Discretionary Housing Payments                   made directly into your bank account.         housing benefits pages on our website
If you pay council tax why not find out if     Discretionary housing payments can top                                               
you can get a reduction based on your          up benefit awards. They are awarded for          The main advantages of receiving
circumstances? You can get a                   limited periods and are for people who           electronic payments are:                      Under occupancy in social housing
personalised calculation using the online      already get housing benefit or local             • They are processed quicker than             In April 2013 there were changes to the
calculator at               housing allowance who are struggling                cheques                                    way your housing benefit is calculated if
benefitscalculator                             financially. If you need an application form     • They are available to withdraw on the       you live in accommodation rented to you
                                               please see our website at                           day your bank receives it                  by a local authority, registered housing
Housing Benefit / Local Housing                                      • There are no delays waiting for post        association or other registered social
Allowance (LHA)                                                                                    to arrive or travelling to the bank to     landlord.
If you rent your home, you may be able to Discretionary Council Tax                                deposit the cheque
claim housing benefit to help with your        Reduction Scheme                                 • It reduces risk of loss, late payments      A 14% reduction will be made to your
rent. However, if you live in privately rented A discretionary reduction may be awarded            or theft                                   eligible rent if you under occupy your
property you will need to claim local          where you are struggling to pay your                                                           home by one bedroom and a 25%
housing allowance. There is more               Council Tax. Anyone can apply whether            To make the change to electronic              reduction for two bedrooms or more. The
information about local housing allowance you are in receipt of benefits or working.            payment, see page 2 for contact details.      new rules will allow you one bedroom for:
on our website at            The scheme is designed to offer short                                                          • every adult couple (married or
                                               term help to those customers who are             The Welfare Reform Act has                       unmarried)
Savings and capital up to £6,000 (£10,000 struggling financially. Every application will        introduced a number of changes                • any other adult aged 16 or over
for those of pension age) are ignored,         be considered individually, if you wish to       which will affect housing benefit and         • any two children of the same sex aged
anything above this could affect               apply for this, please complete the              council tax benefit.                             under 16
entitlement to benefit, and if you have over application form available on our website                                                        • any two children aged under 10
£16,000 you will not normally qualify.         at                             Local Housing Allowance (LHA)                 • any other child (other than a foster child
                                                                                                from April 2013                                  or child whose main home is elsewhere)
When calculating council tax support,             Home visits                                   From 1 January 2013, customers will no        • a carer (or team of carers) who do not
housing benefit and local housing                 The Benefits Service has a dedicated team     longer have a LHA anniversary date. This         live with you but provide you or your
allowance, we look at your circumstances          who can visit people in their own homes.      change means that all LHA claims will be         partner with overnight care
which may include:                                A visiting service is provided to:            reviewed on 1 April each year (or the first
• Your income                                     • Residents over the age of 60                Monday following this date if your rent is    There are certain circumstances where the
• Your savings and capital                        • Residents with a disability                 charged weekly).                              size limit rules will not be applied:
• The size of your home                           • Residents who are vulnerable                                                              • State pension credit age – If you are
• The amount of your rent                                                                       Increases and decreases in rent for              over state pension credit age or have a
• Other people who live with you                  The team offer advice on and complete         LHA customers                                    partner over state pension credit age
                                                  application forms on a range of benefits,     From April 2013 we will be able to revise     • Temporary accommodation – If you
If you are not sure if you will qualify, either   to find out more contact us (see page 2) if   your LHA amount if you have a change to          have been accepted as homeless under
contact the housing benefit service (see          you would like to request a home visit.       your rent. At present, changes to your rent      homelessness legislation of the Housing

16                                                                                                                                                                                     17
Are you entitled to benefits?                                                                   Free school meals and
continued...                                                                                    clothing allowance
  Act 1996 and placed in temporary             the benefit cap. To use this tool you will       What are free school meals?                     How much School Clothing
  accommodation by the local authority         need to know the weekly award for each           They are school dinners for children            Allowance will I get?
• Shared ownership – If you part               benefit or allowance that you and any            between the ages of 4 and 16 who attend         The amount you may receive depends on
  own/part rent your home                      member of your household receives                full time school. They may also be awarded      which school year the child is in. For year
• Supported “exempt”                                                                            to some children outside this age range         7 children it is £30.00 and for year 9 it is
  accommodation – If you live in a             Other welfare benefit changes                    who attend full time school or nursery.         £25.00.
  property run by housing associations or
  charities which provide care/support or      Personal Independence Payments                   What is School Clothing Allowance?              Please note that these are not
  supervision.                                 As part of the Governments wider welfare         It is a benefit paid to help meet the cost of   payable in respect of children who
                                               reform, Personal Independence Payment            essential school clothing for children who      attend private schools.
For more information please see the            (PIP) has replaced Disability Living             attend full time school in years 7 and 9.
housing benefits pages on our website          Allowance (DLA) for people who were                                                              From September 2014 the Government                                                                               Do I qualify?                                   has confirmed that all pupils in
                                               aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 or reach
                                                                                                To qualify you or your partner must be          Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state
                                               age 16 after that date. This was initially for
                                                                                                getting one of the following:                   funded schools will be eligible to have a
Household benefit cap                          new claims only.
                                                                                                • Income Support                                free school meal. This will be called a
In September 2013 the Government put a
                                                                                                • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance            Universal Free School Meal.
limit on the total amount of benefit that      To find out more and access the PIP              • Income Related Employment and
working age people can receive.                checker please visit               Support Allowance                             Is your family accessing your free
This means that households claiming out        disability-living-allowance-                     • Guarantee element of Pension Credit           childcare entitlement?
of work benefits will no longer receive        benefit/how-to-claim                             • Support under part VI of the
more in benefits than the average wage                                                            Immigration and Asylum Act 1999               All three and four year olds are entitled
paid to those who are working.                 Universal Credit                                 • Child Tax Credit only (without Working        to a free childcare place. Some two year
                                               Universal Credit has already been rolled           Tax Credit) and have an annual income         olds can also access a place but they
Total benefit payable will be limited to a     out in the Northwest of England and there          of less than £16,190.                         must meet the national eligibility criteria.
maximum of £500 each week for couples          are a limited number of customers who            • Universal Credit
and lone parents and £350 for single           are eligible to claim. This rollout will                                                         Free places are for up to 15 hours a
people, though entitlement to certain          continue during 2016 and the DWP                 What evidence is required and how               week during school term time (38 weeks
other benefits may exempt you from the         website will be able to provide more             do I apply?                                     a year) or a maximum of 570 hours over
household benefit cap.                         information as to those people affected.         You need to provide an up to date               50 weeks. This is flexible to meet your
                                                                                                document showing that you are getting           needs.
Local authorities will be responsible for      The rollout means that new claims to             one of the above qualifying benefits.
applying the household benefit cap to          existing benefits, which Universal Credit is                                                     For more information on free childcare
new and existing claims, through housing       replacing, will then cease, with the vast        You do not need to make a separate claim        places, to find out whether you are
benefit reductions.                            majority of claimants moving onto                if you are already getting or have applied      eligible, or to find out about local
                                               Universal Credit during 2016 and 2017.           for Housing Benefit / Council Tax Benefit       childcare providers, please visit
For more information please see the                                                             or Free School Meals. We will use the  or ring 01204
housing benefits pages on our website                                                           information and evidence you have already       332170., where there is a link                                                        provided to confirm your entitlement. For
for you to use to see if you are affected by                                                    more information contact the housing
                                                                                                benefit service (see page 2).
18                                                                                                                                                                                          19
Do it online…
For the services included in this booklet, here’s what you can now do online on
our website:
Council tax                                  • Request assistance to challenge or
• Make payments                                appeal a benefit decision
• Register to view your account online -     • Request help under the local welfare
  see bills, other notices, payments and       provision scheme
  balances                                   • Landlords can view tenant’s details
• Set up or amend a direct debit               online (where housing benefit is paid
• Request e-billing                            direct) - see notifications, payment
• Search for a council tax band                details and export payment schedules.
• Report a change of address                 • Landlords can report a tenant moving
• Download application forms for               in or out
  discounts and exemptions
                                             Business rates
Benefits                                     • Make payments
• Check whether you are entitled to          • Register to view your account online -
  housing benefit or council tax support       see bills, other notices, payments and
  and make a claim online                      balances
• Register to view your account online -     • Set up or amend a direct debit
  see notifications, details of claims and   • Request e-billing
  payment amounts                            • Search for rateable values
• Report a change in circumstances
• Make payments for housing benefit          You can also find further information and
  overpayments                               forms on the Council Tax, Business
• Request a form                             Rates and Benefits pages on our

Large print, interpretation, text only
and audio formats of this document
can be arranged on request.
Tel: 01204 333333

Published March 2015 by Bolton Council
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