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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Have your say in Council Tax support consultation

 

Residents are being urged to have their say on proposed changes to Council Tax support for those on low incomes.

Local people are being encouraged to complete a short consultation survey on Cheshire East Council’s website to share their views.

The coalition Government abolished Council Tax Benefit on March 31, 2013, as part of welfare reform changes.

Cheshire East Council introduced the current Council Tax support scheme on April 1, 2013, following consultation. The scheme changed the support available for those of working age.

Pensioners are protected and unaffected by the proposed changes and the Department for Communities and Local Government maintains this scheme for pensioners.

As it is now in its third year, a review of the Council Tax support scheme is being undertaken to identify additional savings to contribute to meeting the Council’s financial challenges.

The Council is committed, however, to ensuring the scheme remains fair to residents, continues to support vulnerable people and encourages those who can work to do so or to increase their hours and/or pay to reduce welfare dependency.

Councillor Peter Groves, Cabinet member for finance and assets, said: “Residents views on these proposals are very important to us, as a listening Council that puts its residents first.

“So I would urge people of all ages and backgrounds to take just a few minutes to fill in the short online survey to inform and shape the authority’s decision, to ensure that we get it right.”

The Council consultation includes:

● Increasing the minimum contribution from 20 per cent to 25 per cent for those of working age;

● Restricting the help for properties in Bands C-H to a maximum based on a Band B property charge, in their area. Currently, this is restricted to a Band D in the same area;

● Stopping support for those with capital of £6,000 or more;

● Reducing the period of additional support awarded when someone starts work from eight weeks to four weeks;

● Increasing non-dependant deductions from £5 to £7 per week;

● Increasing the minimum award from 50p to £2 per week;

● Removing backdating of claims, currently a maximum of 13 weeks are available;

● Using the same levels of allowances and premiums when calculating Council Tax support that are used in housing benefit (and change each year).

● Your views as to whether the cost of the scheme should be reduced, or whether cuts should be made to other services, or whether the Council should fund the scheme by using its general reserves, or a combination of these.

More information on these proposals, including how to calculate the effect of the changes, is available at: http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/benefits_housing_council_tax/council-tax-support-scheme-consultation.aspx

The deadline for our online survey, to express your views and preferences for the new scheme is October 25.

The results of the survey will be published at the end of December 2015. These results will be considered by Full Council and the final scheme will be published at the end of January 2016.

If you have any questions or would like further assistance with the consultation, contact the Council’s benefits section by phone on 0300 123 5013 or email: benefits.consultation@cheshireeast.gov.uk

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