|More Time to Have Your Say on Benefit Changes|
Consultation on Council Tax benefit extended
Residents affected by changes to the council tax benefit system have more time to let the council know their views after the deadline to return responses was extended until 5 October.
Council tax benefit is a means tested benefit that helps people with low or no income to pay their council tax.
The Government is stopping the benefit from April 2013, and councils are required to provide a local scheme, called council tax support. The funding from the Government for this scheme is being reduced, so people currently on the benefit will have to pay more towards their council tax.
Cllr Ruth Cadbury, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “These Government changes will cost more than 15,000 people in the borough on low incomes around £150 a year. We want to make sure we fully understand the impact, so I’m urging anyone affected to fill in the consultation.
“By cutting the amount of funding available and expecting us to provide a new support scheme, the Government have put us between a rock and a hard place.
“If we ran the new scheme to the same levels as before, we would have to cut other services to help us pay for it, or increase council tax, neither of which we are prepared to do.
“So we have to pass the cost along to those receiving the benefit, who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
Working age claimants will have to accept a 15 per cent decrease in their benefit, which for most would mean a loss of between £10 and £20 per month. Most of these claimants would never have paid council tax before.
The consultation has been extended to run until 5 October, and is available online at www.hounslow.gov.uk/consultations, and paper questionnaires are also available.
Leaflets explaining the changes are also available at the Civic Centre, libraries and other council premises. There have also been a series of meetings around the borough where people could ask any questions they have on the new scheme.
September 25, 2012