Residents to have their say on Council Tax Benefit changes
01 August 2012
Residents throughout Castle Point Borough Council will get the chance to have their say on how support for Council Tax payments is provided to those on low incomes in the Borough.
The Government is to end Council Tax Benefit on 31 March, 2013 as part of its Welfare Reform Act, replacing it with a Local Council Tax Support scheme (LCTS).
Under the changes Government funding given to councils for their LCTS will drop by about 10 per cent.
The Government’s Welfare Reforms aim to improve incentives for people to work and ensure resources are used more effectively in a bid to end a culture of benefit dependency.
District and borough councils in the county have been working together with Essex County Council to design, develop and deliver a framework for the new LCTS schemes and tackle the reduction in funding.
For the Castle Point area the reduction will mean a drop of at least £1.1million from its current spend which supports around 7,600 households in the Borough, 57% of them pensioners although pensioners are protected from any reduction to their benefit payments.
However, the support given to the remaining 43% of households of working age will need to be reduced to make up the funding reduction.
Cllr Jeffrey Stanley Cabinet Member for Corporate Policy, Resources and Performance, said that some difficult decisions have to be made about the working age group – about who gets help and just how much.
“The reforms coming down to us from central government are extensive and designed to encourage people back into the workplace. It is vital that we come up with a Castle Point proposal that fits our particular demography in advance of these reforms,” he said.
“The important thing now is for residents to have their say on the reforms - whether or not they receive Council Tax benefit.”
Council proposals for the working age households include:
- Calculation of support will be on the maximum of a Band D property. Anyone in a higher banded property will only be able to claim at the Band D rate
- To focus support on those most in need, the maximum level of savings below which claimants can still apply for support will be reduced to £6,000
- Rebate to a second adult in a household will be removed
- Support will be based on 65% of Council Tax Liability.
A 6-week period of public consultation runs from August 1, 2012 until 11 September 2012.
This is part of an Essex-wide consultation exercise giving all of the county’s residents the chance to comment on the proposals of their own local authority.
At the end of the period the feedback received will be considered by Castle Point Borough Council’s Cabinet. A proposed final scheme will be put to Full Council for approval.
The full draft proposal can be found at http://www.castlepoint.gov.uk with links to the consultation questionnaire.
Paper copies of the draft proposals and questionnaire can be provided on request by contacting the Council.
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