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Council tax support schemes’ impact on claimants & local authorities

Researchers: Stuart Adam | Robert Joyce

Project overview

In April 2013, the national system of council tax benefit, which provided low-income families with support with their council tax, was abolished and local authorities were given responsibility for designing their own systems of council tax support, with grants equivalent to 90% of the previous funding. In many local authorities this has led to some low-income families having to pay some council tax for the first time and others seeing their council tax liabilities increase.

This project will examine in detail how both claimants and local authorities have responded to this change during the first few years of the policy’s operation by:

  • Showing how different types of local authorities have changed their schemes over time.
  • Investigating the consequences of those scheme choices on local authority level outcomes. 
  • Exploring the impacts of the new schemes on families.

The analysis will draw on multiple sources of data including data on the characteristics of different local authorities’ council tax support schemes from the New Policy Institute, official data on local authority characteristics, Citizens Advice data, and the Family Resources Survey. The findings will not only shed light on the effects of the 2013 policy change, but will also provide evidence on the likely effect of future welfare reforms.

Latest on this project


  • Stuart Adam
    Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Robert Joyce
    Institute for Fiscal Studies

  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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