The Institute of Fiscal Studies report, Reforming Council Tax Benefit, provides a detailed, technical assessment of the likely effects of localisation and the distribution of funding cuts across the country. It finds that:
the combined effect of the 10 per cent cut and the requirement to protect vulnerable pensioners equates to an average 19 per cent cut in support for working-age claimants – and, if councils are unable to find savings elsewhere and pass on the cuts to CTB claimants, it is inevitable that the poorest will be hit;
localisation will strengthen local authorities' incentives to promote employment and growth, but also give an incentive to discourage low-income families from living in the area and a disincentive to encourage take-up of support;
the existence of different schemes across the UK will reduce transparency and increase bureaucracy, undermining the simplification and rationalised work incentives that were central to the idea of Universal Credit.
It concludes that the advantages of localisation seem to be strongly outweighed by the disadvantages and struggles to think of reasons “why the government’s original plan to integrate CTB into Universal Credit was inferior to what is now being proposed”.
For these reasons, Norfolk County Council believes that the decision to require local councils to not only make these cuts but also to have to decide the criteria for implementation, will hit the most vulnerable of our citizens of working age, in both urban and rural area, and create inevitable anomalies between neighbouring local councils that will cause an understandable feeling of unfairness between our Norfolk Communities.
We urge the Coalition government to think again and to listen to the voice of local councils.