Council tax benefit changes - have your say
By MikeBradley | Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 09:37
The Government is abolishing council tax benefit and Stafford Borough
Cllr Ken Williamson is calling on residents to have their say over council tax benefit changes
Council is inviting residents to have their say on a replacement
A consultation to be launched on Monday (17
September 2012) will ask for people's views on a new, local system to
help people in need pay their council tax bills.
Currently local authorities deliver council
tax benefit on the Government's behalf but the national scheme is being
scrapped. The Government has decided that it should be replaced with a
local scheme in each council area from 1 April 2013.
But, while the Government currently pays for
council tax benefit, it will only give councils 90 percent of the
estimated cost - leaving a funding gap in Stafford Borough Council's
area of £621,000
The council say the priority is to agree a
scheme that protects the borough's most financially vulnerable residents
- and wants to ensure the voices of all residents are heard before any
changes are given the go ahead.
Government rules state that there will be no changes for pensioners.
In addition the Local Authority is looking to
protect three groups from the full range of changes being introduced -
disabled people who receive a severe disability premium, and both lone
parents and families who have a child under five - by allowing up to
100% of the Council Tax Liability.
Certain discounts and exemptions which
currently apply to Council Tax and protect other categories of residents
remain unaffected including those who are severely mentally impaired
and live on their own and single people who receive a 25 percent
Everybody else who receives council tax
benefit is likely to see a change with some affected more than others.
The consultation will look at groups that will be affected by these
changes such as families with children, lone parents, carers, full-time
and part-time workers, people with a disability, single people, and
The proposals were discussed by the council's cabinet today (Monday 10 September.)
Detailed information and consultation
questionnaires will soon be available on the council's website, and a
series of open days in the local area are being organised for residents
to come along, speak to an advisor and give their feedback.
Councillor Ken Williamson, (pictured) cabinet
member for resources, said: "The Government's changes will leave us
with a much smaller budget to help residents in need pay their council
"We are determined to prepare a fair, local
scheme that is shaped by the views of our residents. That is why it is
vital that as many people as possible take part in this consultation.
"The choices outlined have been designed to
ensure we can protect our most financially vulnerable residents. No
decisions will be made until we've heard from as many local residents as
There are many different council tax benefit
rules that can affect the amount of support a person may receive so the
plan is to look at those that can be changed to allow the authority to
save the required amount during the first two years of the scheme.
- Claims will be based on a max of 80% Council Tax Liability (unless in a protected group)
- Properties in bands higher than Band D will be based on 80% Band D Council Tax
- Second Adult Rebate will not be retained in the Local Scheme
- Claims from anyone not in receipt of a DWP benefit and with capital in excess of £6000 will not be entitled.
- Child benefit will be included in the assessment of the claim
- Maintenance payments will be included in the assessment of the claim
- The first £25 per week of earned income will be disregarded
Further information, including a full list of
exempted groups and detailed description of the proposed changes, will
be available on Monday (17 September) at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/lcts