Changes to council tax benefits edge closer
Big changes to the benefits system are moving closer, as local councillors approve new council tax support schemes.
NORTH Devon Council and Torridge District Council have both approved new ‘support’ schemes which will affect council tax benefit claims from April next year.
Big changes to the benefits system mean that 4,000 people in North Devon and almost 3,000 in Torridge will now pay a larger share of their council tax bill.
More than half will be paying something towards their bills for the first time and those affected will see their council tax support reduced by at least 25 per cent in both districts, around �300 a year on a band B property.
From April 2013 the Government is abolishing the current council tax benefit system, forcing local councils to create new local council tax support schemes instead.
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The Government currently provides around �13million to help North Devon and Torridge’s poorest council tax payers pay their bills.
However, next year they are slashing this amount by about 12 per cent, meaning the two district councils will have to reduce the amount they spend on council tax support by about �1.5 million.
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Pensioners are protected from the changes but low-paid working-age residents who currently claim council tax benefit are set to face the brunt of the cuts.
The councils said the new schemes had been designed to spread the impact of the cuts as fairly as possible and to encourage people into work.
North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Community, Councillor Yvette Gubb, said: “People of working age who currently claim council tax benefit need to take notice of these changes.
“For some people, this will be the first time they will have to pay towards their council tax. We will be writing to everyone who’s likely to be affected and would urge those that are worried about being able to pay their council tax next year to get in touch with us now so that we can help them.”
Leader of Torridge District Council, Cllr Barry Parsons, added: “Inevitably these changes will affect some people more than others, but we have tried to make the scheme as fair as possible, given the cuts forced upon us by central government.
“I have a meeting planned with Eric Pickles MP to discuss, amongst other things, how changes such as these can seriously affect residents in our local community.”
For more information about the changes contact North Devon Council’s benefits team on 01271 388871, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Torridge District Council’s benefits team on 01237 428700 or email email@example.com.