Benefits/Council Tax Reduction Scheme Consultation

Closed 4 Sep 2023

Opened 11 Jul 2023

Feedback updated 4 Dec 2023

We asked

Firstly, we asked questions about our local council tax reduction scheme design for next year.

We asked how much we should increase the income bands, in line with the large increases in inflation last year. Each income band determines how much support a household can claim towards their council tax charge.

We asked if adult residents within the household should be expected to help pay the council tax charge.

We asked if letters should be moved online, rather than posted out

We also asked if the law had changed and it impacted on a council tax charge whether we should be allowed to backdate an application for council tax reduction by more than a month, which is the current maximum backdate.

Secondly, for existing Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit customers we asked some customer satisfaction questions:

  • How quickly should we process an application for benefit or a change to your circumstances?
  • How do you prefer to contact us?
  • How do you use online services?
  • Do you understand our letters?
  • How satisfied are you with our service?

You said

A majority of respondents, 79%, agreed or strongly agreed with using income bands to decide how much support people should get towards paying their council tax.

A majority of respondents, 72% agreed or strongly agreed that the income bands should be increased by 10.1%, the rate of inflation.

Around half, 56% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with increasing the bands by a lower amount of 5%. Around a third, 29% disagreed and the rest were not sure.

A majority of 60% of respondents agreed that adult household members should contribute towards paying the council tax charge. Just under a third of respondents disagreed, 27%, and the rest were unsure.

There was a much more even spilt when we asked if we should move letters regarding council tax reduction online, rather than send by post 46% agreed, 43% disagreed.

A clear majority, 76% were in favour of us allowing more than a month to backdate an application where a law has changed putting a council tax charge back further than one month.

For those customers who are receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction the results were.

The most popular answer for how long you think a reasonable time to process a new application for Benefit was 1-2 weeks at 34%, with the second most popular being within a month at 30%.

The most popular answer of how long you think is reasonable to process a change in your circumstances was 1-2 weeks at 38%. Within a month received 23% of votes and within one week 22%.

The contact methods were ranked as follows in terms of most popular to least popular:

  1. Email
  2. Letter
  3. Phone
  4. Online
  5. Face to Face
  6. Home Visit
  7. Other

In terms of online services a clear majority do have access to online services at 93%, but a third of respondents prefer to use a different contact method.


A majority, 79% of respondents reported that they could understand the letter that was sent to them, although we did receive a lot of feedback in the comments on improvements to the letters that we are taking on board.

Overall, a majority of people reported positive customer satisfaction, but again we are working through all the comments received.

  • Very Good 33%
  • Good 36%
  • Average 23%
  • Poor 6%
  • Very poor 2%

We did

We have shared your feedback on our council tax reduction scheme proposals with senior managers and our local councillors who will look at the design for next year’s council tax reduction scheme. Your feedback will help to shape this scheme.

We are using the feedback on how quickly you think is reasonable to process a new application and change of circumstances to set our targets. We will work towards these and if we are not meeting them put plans in place to improve.

Your contact preferences will be taken into account when we look at which services are available, opening hours and staffing levels for these services. We will also use it to consider any future changes to these.

Feedback on how you use our online services is useful when we make decisions whether to move more of our contact online. We can see how many customers will need to have an alternative contact method available.

Thank you for your feedback on our letters. We are going to review the letters that we send out to make sure that they are easy to read and to understand the complex information that we need to provide.

Thank you for providing feedback on your overall satisfaction. We report within the council on this. We will listen to all the feedback provided, comments on the service and suggestions made to see where we can improve. Thank you also to those who gave positive feedback on the service that we are providing.


The Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme provides help for Oxford residents on benefits or low incomes to pay their council tax. This help is provided as a reduction in the amount of Council Tax to pay. The reduction can be up to 100% of the Council Tax bill.

Since the end of national council tax benefit (CTB) in April 2013, councils have been responsible for drawing up their own schemes of support. Oxford is one of a small number of councils who have not reduced the overall level of financial support that was available before 2013, even though government funding for Council Tax support has reduced annually, and ended completely in 2019. Because of government cuts to funding and an increase in caseload due to the rising cost of living, our CTR scheme will cost us more than £1.9 million this year.

In Oxford, 8,933 people currently get help to pay their council tax, of which 6,534 are working age. The amount of help they get depends on their income and their household, with people on some benefits not having to pay anything. These benefits include income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS), Guarantee Credit and income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People in equivalent circumstances on Universal Credit (UC) will also get 100% CTR support thus protecting the most financially vulnerable.  The scheme also currently protects claimants with children and disabled people as this income is ignored when calculating the income band for CTR entitlement.

We are thinking of making some changes to our Council Tax Reduction scheme. We are carrying out this survey to improve service delivery and gauge customer satisfaction with our service.


  • Anyone from any background


  • Reductions
  • Council Tax