Increase in Council Tax Relief for those on Ops

With effect from 1st July 2011 the MoD is doubling Council Tax Relief (CTR) from 25% to 50% for all Service personnel on eligible operations overseas. Increasing the CTR rate is just one of the commitments announced in the ‘Armed Forces Covenant: Today and Tomorrow’ published on 16th May. In addition, CTR is now extended to include Op ELLAMY (personnel deployed within the Joint Operational Area (JOA) specifically in support of the Operation). Please see below Q&A for further guidance.

Background
MoD administers a CTR scheme for all Regular and Reserve Service personnel serving in qualifying Operational Locations overseas (such as Iraq, Afghanistan and now including Libya), who either pay or are counted for Council Tax or Rates for a property in the UK or the equivalent contribution if they are in Service Families Accommodation. The daily rate of CTR has previously been based on 25% of the average Council Tax per dwelling in England. With effect from 1st July this will increase to 50%, which amounts to approximately £296 for an average six month tour for Service personnel on eligible operations overseas. CTR is paid as a tax free lump sum on completion of duty, based on the number of days in the qualifying Operational Location. Full details of eligibility and methods of claiming, which are made on return from deployment, are published in Joint Service Publication 754, Chapter 9, Section 11 (available on the Defence Intranet – internal users only). The process of applying for CTR for those eligible has not changed.

Question & Answers
Who pays council tax/rates?
All Service personnel who own or rent a private property remain liable to pay council tax (or Rates in Northern Ireland) on their own property to the local authority.

Who pays Contribution in lieu of Council Tax?
All Service accommodation in England, Scotland and Wales is formally exempt from the council tax regime because MOD instead pays a ‘Contribution in Lieu of Council Tax’ (CILOCT) to local authorities, broadly equivalent to the amount of tax that would otherwise be due. The average contribution, determined by the type of property occupied, is then recovered from Service occupants with their accommodation charge.

Is the MOD CTR scheme different from Local Authority discounts?
Yes. The MoD CTR scheme is quite separate from the general scheme of discounts and exemptions operated by Local Authorities, including the flexibility they have, if they wish, to grant reductions or exemptions on an individual basis, or for a class of council tax payers.

Will this payment affect any discount Service personnel have already agreed with their local authority?
No. However, MoD’s administrative arrangements exclude personnel from payment if they have already negotiated a discount from local authorities specifically for being away on operational deployment.

Am I eligible to claim CTR?
All Regular Service personnel, mobilised Reserves and Full Time Reserve Service (Full or Limited Commitment) personnel serving in Operational Locations specified by MOD who pay Council Tax (or Rates in Northern Ireland) for a private property or Contributions in Lieu of Council Tax (CILOCT) for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) are eligible to claim CTR.

What about those in Single Living Accommodation (SLA) paying CILOCT?
For those in SLA, CILOCT charges cease when deployed on operations. These personnel are therefore ineligible for CTR.

I serve in the same location as personnel operating in support of Op ELLAMY, am I eligible to receive CTR?
No. Personnel assigned to overseas tours within the Op ELLAMY JOA are not eligible. CTR is only payable to those personnel deployed within the JOA specifically in support of the Operation.

From when and at what rate will CTR be paid to those serving on Op ELLAMY?
Personnel deployed within the JOA specifically in support of the Operation will be eligible to claim from the date of their deployment. For qualifying service up to 30th June 2011, CTR will be paid at the rate of £0.82 per day, increasing to £1.64 from 1st July 2011.