CONSULTATION ON CHANGES TO COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT
August 17 2012
Lewes District Council has launched a ten week consultation on the scheme that will replace Council Tax Benefits. It is likely to affect claimants of working age from next April.
As part of the nation's deficit reduction programme, responsibility for funding the replacement scheme for council tax benefit will transfer to Local Councils from next April. Central government currently reimburses councils for the cost of council tax benefit paid out and from next April it will pass 90% of these funds to the Council. This will leave the Council 10% short, just under £1m, and this will have to be found by Lewes District taxpayers. The percentage funding cut is the same for all Councils.
The Council will need to make some important decisions about who will get financial support towards their council tax and how much they will receive.
Lewes has worked with the other councils in East Sussex to look at different options and how these might affect local people. Currently one in five households in the district receive Council Tax Benefit and unless these people are pensioners, who are a protected group, they are likely to be directly affected by any changes made to the level of support provided.
Lewes District Council has the following choices:
Scheme 1: The intention is to meet the majority of the 10% shortfall by using flexibilities on council tax discounts and exemptions. Reductions in the amount received by those currently on benefit would need to be made to finance the remaining amount of approx £460,000.
Scheme 2: To introduce a scheme which proposes no changes to the current levels of council tax support. This would make use of the flexibilities on council tax discounts and exemptions, but would also mean an increase in council tax for all Lewes District Council residents.
Scheme 3: The Council may consider a further scheme based on feedback and ideas residents may have.
Views are invited on how Lewes District Council should provide council tax support and what residents think about schemes 1 and 2 above.
If you live in Lewes District, the Council wants to hear from you, regardless of whether you are claiming Council Tax Benefit or not, as the changes could affect the amount of Council Tax you pay. Responses are also welcomed from businesses, voluntary sector groups and advice agencies.
Councillor Andy Smith the Lead Member with responsibility for this service said: "I can confirm that we support the government decision to protect pensioners and that people entitled to a single person discount will keep them.
"Protecting these groups and any vulnerable groups does mean that working age people in receipt of help will have to contribute more towards their council tax, or the cost has to be spread across all Council Tax payers.
"We wish to adopt a system that is fair to all residents of the District, whilst incentivising work, so it is important that as many of you as possible take part in this consultation. We will then be in a better position to make a decision later this year."
The Council Tax Support consultation will run from 13 August until 29 October and can be completed on-line through the LDC website at www.lewes.gov.uk
Computers are available at local libraries and hard copy details will be distributed to local Town Council offices.
If you would like your own paper copy telephone 01273 484052 or CLICK HERE to go to the LDC information page.