Consultation on changes to council tax support scheme
Telford & Wrekin Council is committed to continuing its Council Tax Support scheme, despite government cuts meaning it will have to consult on some relatively small changes.
The council now needs to decide if further changes are needed to the scheme to help make more savings.
Some plans for savings have been made and the council is keen to give everyone, whether they claim Council Tax Support or not, a chance to say what they think about the plans.
The council has begun a consultation on the planned changes to Council Tax Support, which is paid to a range of people on low incomes.
The scheme was launched in 2013 after the Government scrapped the national Council Tax Benefit scheme and made councils replace this with their own local scheme.
Councillor Lee Carter, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “As our funding from Government continues to be cut, we now face having to make another £45m to £50m of cuts by 2020 after already making £80m of cuts since 2010.
“This is against a backdrop of Telford & Wrekin, by the Government’s own measures, being funded at £12m a year below the average for English councils.
“Cuts of this scale will prove extremely hard to find and we must look at every possible avenue for savings.
“Many councils are looking at their Council Tax Support schemes and are making reductions far greater than those we are proposing. Our changes are designed to ensure that we reduce the overall costs of the scheme whilst ensuring that we continue to spread the reductions in the fairest way possible.
“We want to hear the views of people before making any final decision on the scheme early next year.
“We are consulting on changing the scheme which means that all working age customers will pay at least 25% of their council tax, compared to the current 21%.
“However, pensioners and vulnerable customers such as those with severe disabilities would not be affected by the proposed changes and could continue to receive up to 100% Council Tax Support.”
Council tax support is paid to around 15,500 homes in the borough and to a wide range of people including working families in low paid employment, people who find themselves unemployed for short periods because of redundancy as well as the long-term unemployed or people unable to work because of illness.
The proposed change would affect around 6,500 households and, based on the average borough Band B home, would see them pay an extra 60p a week in council tax or an extra £31 a year. This would achieve a savings of approximately £270,000 per year which is equivalent to 14,000 hours of home care provision enabling 18 adults to live independently in their own home. These are the difficult choices we are having to make.
Pensioners, anyone classed as severely disabled or in receipt of war disablement or war widow pension will not be affected by the proposed council tax support changes.
People can give their views on the proposed changes here and the Council will contact all residents who would be affected by the proposals encouraging them to give their views. The consultation runs until 1 November.
If the Council does not cut the cost of its council tax support scheme it would need to make deeper cuts to services such as those for vulnerable adults and children.