A discretionary fund of £100,000 has been provisionally set aside for people who may be worse off by a new council tax support scheme.

Hertsmere Borough Council is proposing a simpler, banded approach for working age people in the borough receiving Universal Credit.

Councillor John Graham, responsible for finance and property, explained: "Currently, the amount of support a household can receive is calculated based on previous Council Tax Benefit Regulations. This is a complex, means-tested calculation so we’re proposing to introduce a new, simplified and banded scheme for working age claimants who are earning and who receive Universal Credit."

The proposal is to introduce a banded income scheme for people who receive Universal Credit. This would mean the amount of support someone receives through their council tax would be determined by what band their income falls into. It is believed that this would be less confusing for claimants and that the council would have less paperwork to issue.

When the proposal was discussed by the Executive committee last month, there were affected 177 claimants. Of those 177, 108 will either be the same or better off, on average by £2.16 a week but 69 claimants would be worse off - on average by £3.77. Six will be worse off by more than £10 a week and it is these claimants who will benefit from the discretionary fund.

At the meeting, leader of the council Cllr Morris Bright said the committee would not support anything which could leave people £500 worse off a year and asked officers whether the discretionary fund would be enough.

Labour group leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark, who does not sit on the Executive, called on the council to double the £62,000 discretionary fund which was proposed to £124,000, while Lib Dem councillor Jerry Evans said discretionary payments should be automatic to ensure no one is left in a desperate situation.

The Executive agreed on a new figure of £100,000.

Cllr Seamus Quilty, who sits on the Executive, said: "This shows we are a listneing council. Hertsmere has become the first council in Hertfordshire to adopt this discretionary fund."

With consultation ongoing on the proposals, Cllr Graham added: "We want the value of awards to be about the same as they are now, which means we are looking to maintain the amount of council tax support that claimants might get. For that reason, we have set the proposed rates so that no-one is significantly worse or better off.

"We’ve put in place a range of ways for people to have their say about the proposals so that we can consider the feedback and decide on a way forward and implement a new scheme in April next year."

Pension age claimants would not be affected by the proposed changes.

More information about how these proposals would work is available on www.hertsmere.gov.uk/CTSconsultation

The public consultation will run from 20 August until 30 November 2019.

People can share their views by:

Completing the short, online survey at www.hertsmere.gov.uk/ctsconsultation or by emailing comments to ctsconsultation@hertsmere.gov.uk

Alternatively, people can write to Council Tax, Hertsmere Borough Council, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, WD6 1WA.