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Council Tax Benefits: Reform

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the Government's timetable is for reform of council tax benefit further to the recommendations of Sir Michael Lyons. (142263)

There is a great deal for the Government to consider, arising from Sir Michael Lyons report, much of it identified as being for the longer term.

We already have in place more accessible council tax benefit arrangements for pension credit customers, and we are considering whether these can be further improved.

In the longer term, we want to ensure that council tax benefit is delivered as accessibly, simply and securely as possible. We intend to carry out more research into the feasibility of using data held across Government Departments in order to build up profiles of people likely to be entitled. We also intend to develop the concept of a “single point of contact” for pensioners for access to their benefits, coupled with alignment of application processes. This would produce a better public service as well as greater efficiency.

We will consider, in our research, the impact on fraud and error and issues of practicality and affordability, alongside priorities for the tax and benefits system as a whole. We will also consider the relative merits of piloting any changes and rolling them out nationally.