Doncaster Council is urging people to hurry as the deadline quickly approaches for them to have their say on changes to Council Tax Support for the town’s most in need households.
The local authority needs to make up a shortfall of £600,000 of Government cuts from its Council Tax Support budget from the start of the next financial year (pensioners’ benefits are protected).
The cuts will affect working age people who currently get help to pay their Council Tax.
A consultation on proposed changes to the Council Tax Reduction scheme for the financial year 2014-15 will run until November 17, 2013.
The options being considered and to be consulted on to minimise the impact on the most vulnerable are:
-Increasing the rate at which support is withdrawn. Currently if someone has income in excess of a deemed minimum amount that is needed to live on, Doncaster Council currently tapers off 25 percent of this. The proposal is to increase this to 30 per cent.
-Taking Child Benefit for all children into account which would affect around 1,784 households currently claiming Local Council Tax Support.
-Limiting the amount of support available to the Council Tax charge for a Band B property which would affect around 1,191 households.
-Limiting the amount of support available to 80 per cent of the Council Tax charge which would affect around 17,068 households.
The news comes following the axing of the previous Central Government controlled Council Tax Benefit scheme in April to replace it with a more local scheme.
This came with a cut in Government funding of well over £3m attached.
Doncaster Council approved a Council Tax Reduction scheme earlier this year which was similar to Council Tax Benefit with some modifications including taking Child Benefit into account for all children after the first child. It also included full protection of benefits to pensioners.
The Council set its scheme so those on the lowest income levels continued to receive full support with their Council Tax and that many others only faced a small reduction in support.
Due to this protection, the Council received a one off extra Government grant of over £460,000 for the first year of the new local scheme which runs up to the end of March 2014. However, the Government will not pay this grant again from April 2014.
In addition, the Government has also confirmed that the Council will have to increase the allowances it uses to support pensioners’ Council Tax and fund the extra cost of this.
Once again therefore the Council is forced to review its Local Council Tax Reduction scheme to take the cuts into account and the consultations will ask Doncaster residents to give their views on different options.
People can have their say at www.doncaster.gov.uk/changestolocalcounciltaxsupport