Research carried out by Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has found that the Scottish Government intend to reduce or remove the single persons discount from more than half a million people and instead offer discounts based on those who receive council tax reduction. This will see hundreds of thousands of Scots who live alone, a growing proportion of which are over 65, having their 25% water discounts removed. Currently, 944,659 people in Scotland receive discounts from Scottish Water which equates to almost £87 million per year.
In June 2018, 481,850 people received Council Tax Reduction (CTR), far fewer claimants than those receiving single occupancy discount for water, and the number of recipients is continuing to decline. We have seen a huge 12.8% drop in claimants since April 2013.
The eligibility criteria for CTR is based on 6 passport benefits but the low take up of CTR is particularly poor amongst pensioners and owner occupiers- the very people who benefit now from the single persons discount for water. As of yet, there is no indication of how much funding will be available to fund any revised discount. Overtime, this change to water discounts could be nothing more than a money saving exercise as CTR claimant figures continue to decrease.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The Scottish Government’s plans to cut the single persons discount will see more than half a million Scots worse off.
“This ill-advised proposal comes at a time when the cost of living is going up and wages are not keeping pace. People on fixed incomes, in particular older people, have seen a decline in their spending power in real terms and it is this demographic that will be hit particularly hard by the removal of the single persons’ discount.
“Whilst it is laudable to help those with the very lowest incomes more, this should not come at the expense of those who are struggling too.
“The single persons discount benefits older people and those who, for whatever reason, live alone. It is the case that they use less water than a family household and in many cases struggle to cope financially. The Scottish Government should not be removing much needed help and I would urge them to rethink their plans.”
Notes to Editors:
This table illustrates how much worse off a single person household would be if the Scottish Government press ahead with their plans to cut the discount. Taking an average Band D house, they will lose over £100 a year.
Council Tax Band A B C D E F G H
Average Tax 2018/19 (Excl. Water and Sewerage) £797.82 £930.79 £1063.76 £1196.73 £1572.37 £1944.68 £2343.59 £2931.98
Water and Sewerage Charges 2018/19 £291.60 £340.20 £388.80 £437.40 £534.60 £631.80 £729 £874.80
Single Person Discount £72.90 £85.05 £97.20 £109.35 £133.65 £157.95 £182.25 £218.70
Average Council Tax 2018/19: https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Local-Government-Finance/DatasetsCouncilTax/CTBand1819
Water and Sewerage Charges: https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/you-and-your-home/your-charges/2018-19-charges/2018-19-umc
SPICe briefing on the devolved scheme of Council Tax Reduction is available here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/104230.aspx
Scottish Daily Mail article 02/11/18 https://www.pressreader.com/uk/scottish-daily-mail/20181102/281496457288067