Have your say on how we help the most vulnerable

08 Jul 2024

This summer, the London Borough of Sutton will be asking residents for their views on changes it might make to how it charges for adult social care and the amount of council tax some households on low incomes pay.

The proposed changes are part of the Council’s ongoing work to build an inclusive place for everyone while ensuring an efficient and well-run borough. The Council faces increasing demand for its services while also needing to reduce its budget gap for next year (2025/26) which is forecast at over £17 million. 

Sutton’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme supports residents of working age on low incomes so that they only need to pay part of their council tax bill - or in some cases no council tax at all. Currently over 8,000 households in the borough benefit from a reduction in their council tax and 3,128 Sutton households pay no council tax at all. 
The Council currently spends £13.9 million on its Council Tax Reduction Scheme - of which £9.2 million is for reductions for working-age households with the remainder for pensioner households. The proposed changes would only impact those of working age. Pensioners in Sutton would not be affected. 

Sutton has not reviewed its Council Tax Reduction Scheme since 2017. But given the financial pressures faced by all local authorities, the Council will now consult on whether to change the amount residents of working age on low income have to pay. 

In addition to the help with Council Tax, the Council also provides social care services to more than 2,000 adults of all ages with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health illnesses in Sutton. This helps people to live as safely and independently as possible.

The number of adults needing this support and the cost of providing it have grown considerably over the last few years, meaning that each week the Council spends over £1m on adult social care. 

The Council will also now consult on changing these charges for users. These changes would only apply to adults who have been assessed as being able to pay for their care and would also be accompanied by more personalised financial assessments to help them access all the benefits they are entitled to.

Commenting on the consultations, Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of the London Borough of Sutton, said:  

“We are being forced into these decisions because of the failures of the last government. We now have a new government. They must urgently carry out a full review of local government funding, which everyone agrees is completely broken.

“Local government has been promised a review of funding and reforms to social care for a number of years and if this government delivers on the broken promises of the previous government we would not have to make these decisions. 

“We need more funding and more freedom to support those that need our help the most. But we are completely hamstrung by more and more national legislation and less and less national funding. 

“The two schemes we are asking residents to have their say on over the summer will continue to protect the most vulnerable in Sutton. It is absolutely right that the Council continues to help those who need it most in Sutton. 

“But our budgets are under a huge amount of pressure. Where once we could offer more support to those who needed our help, we are now having to make really difficult choices and changes so that only the most vulnerable in our community receive help. 

“We need our residents’ views on making some really difficult decisions and we want to hear from all those currently receiving help from the Council with their council tax and care. I encourage everyone to take part in the consultations and have your say.” 

Notes to Editors

Proposals for consulting residents on changes to the Adult Social Care Charging Policy will be discussed at the People Committee on 16 July. The proposed consultation on changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme will go to the Housing, Economy and Business Committee on 17 July.  

If councillors at both committees agree to the consultations, they will run from late July to early September 2024. 

Residents will be able to share their feedback by completing an online or printed survey, which will also be available in easy read format, or by attending an event in-person.