Council tax benefit changes to save £200,000By Jennie Slevin
January 23, 2013
Councillors have been putting together a local council tax benefit scheme as they prepare for the national scheme to be scrapped in April.
Under the new arrangement, local authorities will manage council tax benefits for residents.
Bracknell Forest Council chiefs promised there will be no changes for pensioners as the new-look means-tested scheme will only affect working-age bill payers.
The changes mean households receiving out-of-work benefits will have their council tax benefit cut from 100 per cent to 91.5 per cent.
This will generate a council saving of nearly £200,000.
Council officers spent months putting together a consultation, which was put out to claimants and agencies over the summer, and the new scheme has been adopted from the results.
The amount of time council tax benefit can be backdated will be reduced from six months to three.
Glyn Jones, director of adult social care, health and housing said: “We did not undertake this task lightly and considered in-depth any changes to the benefits proposed.
“We have redesigned our services so we can provide advice to households about how they can maximise their income so they can pay their council tax.”
As part of the new scheme, the council have been advised to apply for the Government’s council tax transitional grant scheme, which will provide £119,000 of funding for local authorities.
A hardship fund will also be set up for any household struggling to pay its council tax bill.
The borough’s executive approved the scheme on Wednesday, January 9 and it will go before full council next Wednesday.
The coalition Government is giving people the choice to pay their council tax over a longer period of time from April.
Dr Phillip Lee MP for Bracknell Forest welcomed the news.
He said: “By making it possible got taxpayers to pay over 12 months rather than 10, households will be able to bring down their monthly outgoings and have more control over when they pay their bills.”
The change is not compulsory and taxpayers can continue to pay over 10 months if they wish but any household that would benefit from this change should contact their billing authority.