Changes planned to council tax benefits
By thepickler | Thursday, July 26, 2012, 13:18
PEOPLE on low incomes across North Somerset may soon have to pay more council tax because of cuts in Government funding.
North Somerset Council currently administers a scheme for the payment of council tax benefit which is fully funded by the Government and effectively reduces the amount of council tax payable by those on low incomes.
However, from April 2013 the scheme is to be replaced by a cash limited grant which will be 10 to 15 per cent less than the authority currently receives.
Pensioners will not be affected by the changes, but people of working age who receive council tax benefit will be affected by the reduction in funding.
The council is now drawing up a series of proposals to manage the change, which are due to be adopted at a meeting in November.
These include the council not funding the shortfall in funding but developing a scheme to match the central government funding.
At present the potential shortfall in cash is £2 million.
The cashstrapped authority, tasked with saving £47 million over four years, say the only way find the additional cash would be to raise council tax or make cuts to other services.
Council chief say the replacement scheme is likely to follow the rules if the current one, maintaining the existing protection for vulnerable groups.
But it will make no further provisions - including the one which currently excludes certain income within the household when calculating the level of benefit to be paid.
A consultation has now been launched with people being urged to have their say on the proposals.
North Somerset Council's executive member for finance, Councillor Tony Lake said it was very important that local people took the opportunity to let the council know what they think of the proposals.
"The shortage in funding means we have to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial assistance and how much.
"These changes will affect so many residents that I urge you to take part in the consultation and have your say."
The consultation can be found on line at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/ctaxben and responses must be received by October 20.
Once the consultation has closed a report will be prepared for a meeting of the full council on November 15.