We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to look into the way local authorities apply their discretionary powers to reduce the amount of council tax payable in individual cases or classes of cases.
Local authorities have a broad discretion and powers to reduce the amount of council tax payable which is set out in legislation. This power may be exercised in individual cases or classes of cases.
However, it is clear that some Councils appear to be fettering their discretion or not utilising their powers to the utmost when dealing with unusual cases regarding council tax exemptions. To that end it would appear that discretion is not being adopted broadly enough, fairly or lawfully in some cases which in turn is causing stress and considerable hardship to taxpayers already having to deal with unexpected problems involving their homes and who are often vulnerable. There is also the issue of burgeoning debt as a direct result impacting upon entire families.
The Welsh Government should consider strengthening guidance or ensure some form of regulation to require local authorities to demonstrate that they have properly considered each application under the powers available to them, so that discretionary discounts to council tax can be appropriately, humanely and fairly applied.
Taxpayers should not have to endure often many, many years tied up in a bureaucratic nightmare as is so often the case when matters are not simple or straightforward and are unusual. The focus should be to 'help not harm'.