Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Low paid workers set to be hit hardest by reduction in council tax aid
THERE are just three weeks left for people to comment on a new draft council tax support scheme for East Devon.
The new arrangement will replace the national council tax benefit scheme, which is being abolished by the Government from April.
Alongside cuts to the budget it mean East Devon District Councilwill have around £1 million less to spend.
A consultation exercise was launched in August and will run until October 1. It’s a chance for all residents, especially current council tax benefit customers, to comment on the new scheme EDDC has designed in a bid to spread the impact of the cuts as fairly as possible.
So far, EDDC has received 768 responses to a questionnaire that is available online or on paper. The responses are from a mixture of people who currently claim council tax benefit and residents who are able to pay their council tax in full. The council would like to see more responses from both groups before the consultation closes in about three weeks’ time.
The Government have stipulated that:
* Pensioners will see no change to the amount of help they currently receive as existing council tax benefit rules will continue to apply
* Any new scheme must encourage people to work and in particular should not make people feel less keen to get a job
* The impact on the most vulnerable must be considered when designing new schemes.
As pensioners are protected from the change, low-paid working-age residents are set to face the brunt of the cuts. The main groups affected directly are individuals or families who currently claim council tax benefit.
Those working age people who are affected will see their council tax support reduced by an amount yet to be finalised, but in some cases it could mean a drop of around 30 per cent. This could reduce the amount of council tax support for some households by about £400 a year.
A total of 4,339 working-age people are likely to be affected in East Devon, but EDDC is giving all residents a chance to comment.
Press publicity and a poster campaign are designed to spread the word about the changes and there are still a number of roadshows to come this month.
• Reception, Council Offices, Knowle, Sidmouth September 13, 1– 4 pm
• Sainsbury’s, Ottery St Mary 14 September, 1 – 4 pm
• Job Centre, Honiton September 18, 1 – 4 pm
After the consultation ends, the draft scheme will be discussed by EDDC Councillors before a final version is brought forward to full council on December 5.