Changes to Council Tax Benefit – have your say!
Published Wednesday 1st August 12 in Council - news and information releases news
Residents in Southend are being urged to have their say on how future support for Council Tax payments will be provided to those on low incomes.
As part of its Welfare Reform Act the Coalition Government will end Council Tax Benefit on 31st March, 2013, and replace it with a Local Council Tax Support scheme (LCTS).
The funding allocated to councils by the Government for the LCTS scheme will amount to around 87 per cent of its current Council Tax Benefit spend - effectively a reduction of £1.5m.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has been using Council Tax Benefit to support around 19,000 households in the borough.
The new LCTS scheme will force the Council to identify funding of some £2m from its current spend of over £14m to meet the loss in funding from Government and other sources.
To deal with this funding shortfall councils are faced with two options - increasing Council Tax for ALL residents or reducing the level of support given to those currently entitled to the benefit.
Pensioners are protected from any reduction to their benefit payments - safeguarding Council Tax support for around 7,500 people in the borough.
A six-week public consultation will run from Wednesday 1st August until Wednesday 12th September to enable residents to say what they think the Council should do.
At the end of the consultation feedback will be considered by Cabinet. A final scheme will be presented to Full Council for approval in December.
If the Council subsequently opts to reduce the level of support to residents currently entitled to the benefit - rather than increasing everyone's Council Tax - the implications will be:
· all claimants paying a minimum of 20 per cent of their Council Tax bill
· the maximum level of savings below which claimants can still apply for support will be reduced to £6,000 to focus support on those most in need
· the removal of the second adult rebate for working age households and
· basing the maximum support available on the Council Tax Band D property rate
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Leader, Nigel Holdcroft, said: "Once again local authorities are being forced to make very difficult financial decisions due to Government funding cuts.
"We are faced with a stark choice - reducing the level of support to residents currently receiving Council Tax Benefit or increasing Council Tax for every resident in the borough.
"This situation is not of our making and whatever we do there will be people who will be unhappy, but it has to be one or the other.
"I urge people to take part in this consultation - it is very important that as many residents of the borough as possible let us know their views on how we should deal with this."
|To take part in the consultation go to www.southend.gov.uk/Benefits/Changes|
Residents who do not have online access at home are welcome to use the computers in the self-serve suite at the Civic Centre in Victoria Avenue to fill in the questionnaire.