Rugby Borough Council to consult on changes to tax benefit

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A CONSULTATION on planned changed to council tax benefit will take place later this month.

Government changes mean that local authorities must introduce their own council tax support scheme to take effect from April 2013, while funding from the Government is set to be reduced by 10 per cent, or about £640,000.

Council tax benefit is a means tested benefit that allows householders who have a low income to pay a reduced rate, or no, council tax. The council must determine how much discount it can give to working age people in future, taking the reduced funding into account.

Members of the council’s Cabinet will meet on Monday to approve draft proposals. Once approved the consultation is due to take place from Tuesday next week until 15 October, with the new scheme being approved by Full Council in December.

Cllr David Cranham, Rugby Borough Council Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “The new council tax support scheme will represent the biggest change to the council tax system since it was introduced in 1993. Our proposals are designed to minimise the impact on individual recipients of council tax benefit, while ensuring that there is effective protection for vulnerable people. We must also ensure that there is still a good incentive to work and apply for benefits promptly when circumstances change.

“While we think we have a good understanding of how our proposals will affect our residents, we want to make sure that we’ve taken all of the relevant issues into account. Residents can help us by commenting on our proposals and letting us know how they might be affected, and I would encourage everyone to take the time to take part in the consultation.”

The options available are:

*The council could choose to retain the current scheme and make savings of £640,000 from other service areas

*The council could amend the scheme to match the funding available, while ensuring that pensioners are no worse off than under the current scheme.

*The proposed scheme and consultation will be available from the council website at www.rugby.gov.uk/haveyoursay, after August 20.