AT A full council meeting on January 9, East Riding of Yorkshire Council members agreed the new local council tax support scheme that will replace council tax benefit in the East Riding from 1 April 2013.
On April 1, 2013 the current council tax benefit scheme will be abolished by the Government. This benefit is awarded to customers in low or no income households to help them pay their council tax. It is currently a national scheme paid for and regulated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
All local authorities have been required to design their own local schemes to support their residents who need help with their council tax from 1 April 2013. Pensioners are protected from these changes and will not see any changes to their benefits. The new scheme applies to working age residents only.
The government is reducing the funding it gives to local authorities to support working age residents who need help with their council tax and East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s funding will reduce by £2.2 million. The council therefore had to decide whether to reduce the level of support offered to working age residents or find the savings from other services. The difficult decision was taken that the new council tax support scheme should limit the amount of help that working age residents can receive to 75 per cent of their council tax bill. The new scheme means that no one of working age will receive 100 per cent support towards their council tax, and every working age household in the East Riding will have some council tax to pay.
Councillor Stephen Parnaby OBE (pictured), leader of the council, said: “As the budget the council receives to pay council tax support will be reduced by £2.2 million from April, the council has to make difficult decisions to reduce the amount of help people can have towards their council tax bills.
“Even after limiting the amount of help that working age residents can receive to 75 per cent of the council tax bill, the council will still have to find £1.2 million to fund the scheme.
“I must stress that the changes to council tax benefit are entirely the result of Government policy and not anything decided locally by this council.
“The council has consulted closely with many people and groups about the changes. The general view has been that it is difficult to treat one group who may be vulnerable in a more or less favourable way than another, so a reduction in benefit across the board is the fairest way to proceed. The East Riding’s 15,500 pensioners are exempt from the changes and will not see any reduction in their entitlement.”
All existing customers will be automatically transferred on to the new scheme from 1 April 2013 and will receive notification letters and council tax bills in March 2013 showing how much they will have to pay.
Residents are urged not to ignore their council tax bill. It is important that payment is made as the bill specifies, or that contact is made with the council to discuss repayment options and how we can help.
If you wish to find out how the new changes will affect you, you can call into your local customer service centres, telephone the benefit section on (01482) 394799 or visit www.eastriding.gov.uk. If you are worried about paying your council tax, you can contact the Benefit and Money Advice team on 0800 915 0381.
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