Council to consult on changes to council tax benefit
People across the Chichester District will be consulted on changes to council tax benefit that could affect them and their families.
New rules introduced by the Government mean that from April 2013 council tax benefit will be abolished and replaced by local support to help people to pay their council tax. Funding for the scheme will be cut by 10% - a reduction of around £750,000.
Councils across the country have to create local reduction schemes for their area. Chichester District Council is now beginning to explore how its scheme could look and it wants local residents to provide their views between 17 August and 14 September. The council wants the new scheme to:
The Government is reducing the funding it provides to the council and so it is consulting on a number of ways this could be dealt with, such as:
The Government has indicated that pensioners will be protected from any benefit changes.
The consultation will be achieved through two surveys. One focuses on the support given to those who currently receive council tax benefit. The other looks at the level of discounts and exemptions that are currently given to some empty properties and second homes. Those taking part in the consultation are encouraged to complete both surveys.
The surveys must be completed by 14 September, with the council making a decision on the final structure of the new system later this year. The surveys can be found from Friday 17 August on our consultation page or a hard copy can be requested by calling 01243 534623. Council staff will also be available to assist those who would like help completing the surveys.
Cllr Tony Dignum, Cabinet Member for Finance at Chichester District Council says: "We want to hear from local residents and homeowners, especially if they currently claim council tax benefit and are under the state retirement age. We want their views on which groups of people should be protected, or if they believe it is fairer to ask everyone to pay a little extra. We will use this information to help us make our final decisions.
"We may have to make some tough choices over the months and years ahead, and so it is important that people have their say. Implementing these changes will be a massive challenge for us. It is vital that we get the views of not only those who receive benefits, but also other groups such as landlords, agents and those with second homes.
"Our priority is to protect the most vulnerable and so for the first year we intend that no existing Council Tax Benefit claimant will be worse off as a result of the proposed new rules. However, we do aim to make some minor amendments and simplify the administration to reduce costs. In the future we may have to make further changes."
From Friday 17 August, you can find out more about the consultation and the various options on our consultations page or by contacting the Consultation Team.
Date: 14 August 2012