Council tax benefit consultation launched
Date posted: 15-08-2012
RESIDENTS in Thurrock 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 the national welfare reform, the government is changing the way financial support for council tax is managed from April 2013. This means that council tax benefit – the current way of helping people on low incomes meet their council tax obligations – will be replaced by new local council tax support scheme managed by Local Authorities, rather than the current tried and tested national scheme.
Thurrock Council has to develop its local council tax support scheme and is seeking residents’ views over the next seven weeks.
Councillor Phil Smith, Portfolio Holder for Central Services, said: “We have been using council tax benefit to support around 14,000 households in the borough.
“The government insists local schemes are implemented, and there is no option but to look at making everyone pay something towards their council tax bill.
“Pensioners are protected from any reduction to their benefit payments so we are safeguarding council tax support for 5,700 pensioners. When developing this proposed scheme we have looked at the impact on our communities and we believe the proposals are fair to all council tax payers and will help us continue to support those most in need within Thurrock.
“I would 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 view. These views will be taken into consideration.”
The Thurrock Council proposals include the following:
· Working age claimants, who have not paid anything before will pay something towards their council tax bills. This could be at least 25% of the council tax bill.
· Working age people who have previously paid something may have to make an increased contribution towards their council tax bill.
· The maximum capital limit may be £6,000. This means anyone who has savings over £6,000 may not receive support with their council tax.
· Proposal is to ignore £25 per week of your earned income when calculating levels of council tax support. This should help people in work or seeking employment increase their working hours or pay.
· Proposal is that the second adult rebate will no longer be awarded for working age claimants. People currently receive second adult rebate when their own income is too high to receive council tax benefit but they have another ‘second’ adult living with them, who is not their partner, and that ‘second’ adult has a low income. This proposed change may affect a small number of working age claimants who currently receive second adult rebate.
· Proposal is that Child Benefit and Child Maintenance are not used as income to calculate the amount of local council tax support.
The consultation will run from Monday 13 August until Sunday 30 September 2012 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.