Residents in North Lincolnshire are being asked to give their views on proposed changes to council tax support. You can give your views here.
The proposed changes are being brought in as part of the government’s drive to cut the cost of welfare benefits.
From 1 April 2013, councils must introduce a local council tax support scheme to replace the current council tax benefit. As part of these arrangements, all councils in England will receive 10 per cent less grant from the Government to meet the costs of the council tax benefit bill.
Council’s must therefore decide whether to keep their council tax support scheme the same as the current benefit scheme and meet the cost of the reduced Government grant through increased council tax.
The alternatives are to cut other services, or introduce a localised council tax support scheme that is affordable within the grant. This means that people who currently receive council tax benefit will have to pay more towards their council tax bill.
The proposed 10 per cent cut in North Lincolnshire’s council tax benefit grant equates to around £1.3 million. The council is consulting on a local scheme for its 17,000 claimants that is affordable within the reduced grant.
The government wants pensioners to still receive full council tax benefit, and the proposed scheme in North Lincolnshire will therefore protect pensioners. But this means that the remaining 8,500 claimants will have a reduction in the level of council tax support they receive of around 23 per cent.
The council is also proposing to set up a housing support fund of £200,000 to provide emergency support to people in dire need of financial help as a result of the changes.
The consultation runs until October 19. The council is expected to have made a final decision on the scheme by late November, ready for the changes to be introduced from April 2013.
Cllr Neil Poole, cabinet member for Policy and Resources at North Lincolnshire Council, said:
“In putting forward this option, the council has considered carefully the requirements put on us by central government, the council’s dependency on tax income, and the needs of the vulnerable people in North Lincolnshire.
“We believe it is vital that all of these groups receive support from us and that is why we are putting in place the support fund. Not only for them but also to reduce the longer-term impact on the wider community and the council itself.
“It is important that people look at the proposals and let us know what they think.”