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What we fund – Policy in Practice

Exploring innovative approaches to ensure more low-income households benefit from council tax support.

Funding snapshot

Programme area: Strengthening social security

Amount: £40,000

Length of grant: 2021-2023

Impact goal: Increasing benefits take-up

The challenge

Low-income households are sometimes eligible for a council tax reduction, to reduce the cost of their council tax bill. This is an important part of our social security system, potentially saving families on the lowest incomes significant amounts of money a year. But take up has historically been low, meaning households are missing out on vital income.

The project

A more efficient system to identify households who are entitled to council tax support could increase take up. This, in turn, would put money into the pockets of people on the lowest incomes.

Policy in Practice is a social policy software and analytics business, using data and technology to make the social security system work more effectively for households on low incomes. We funded it to develop an automated process to increase the uptake of council tax reduction. This included:

  1. Working with councils to understand if the data provided to boroughs by DWP could be used to automate council tax reduction processes.
  2. Reviewing the current approach from three local authorities to council tax reduction. This indicated the level of change needed to automate the council tax reduction process.
  3. Carrying out interviews with participating councils to understand the barriers to an automated process.
  4. Launching an active campaign in Enfield, using Universal Credit Data, illustrating how council tax reduction uptake could be increased.

Since our funding ended, the project has led to councils in London and across the UK exploring automated council tax support processes.

In one local authority authority 53 people who should have been receiving council tax support were identified and are now receiving awards worth £1,000 per year. “The project has a life beyond the grant, with councils in London and across the UK exploring how council tax support can be automated, reducing administration costs and leaving more support to go to the families that need it.

Deven Ghelani, Director of Policy in Practice
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