Cornwall Council to ask county's poorest to pay 30 per cent of council tax
10:45am Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
Cornwall Council has started a consultation on changes to council tax and their preferred option is to ask the poorest families to foot 30 per cent of the bill.
A statement from Cornwall Council said that following the government ’s decision to reform the benefits system, all working age people in Cornwall currently receiving council tax benefit are likely to see changes to the amount they receive.
As part of the government’s changes to the national benefits scheme, responsibility for council tax benefit will be transferred to local authorities and Cornwall Council has to create its own Localised Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme.
The government is reducing the amount of funding available by 12.5 per cent, which means that Cornwall Council will have £6 million less to distribute to people who are entitled to council tax benefit in Cornwall.
Pensioners "must be protected" from any reduction in council tax benefit, according to the government, so the council has to put in place a new scheme that they say is as fair as possible to people of working age who claim council tax benefit.
The council has to introduce a new scheme in Cornwall by January 31, 2013 or the government will impose their own default scheme which will be largely based on the existing council tax benefit scheme but with reduced funding.
A draft proposal, called the preferred option, has been made by the council.
They are asking for people’s views and offering them the opportunity to help shape the scheme when a report goes to Cornwall Council members at their meeting in December.
The preferred option is that everyone of working age who receives Council tax benefit should pay at least 30 per cent towards their council tax bill i.e. receive less council tax benefit, in order to make up for the reduction in government grant.
This approach means that the council would not have to make any changes to eligibility criteria or assessment processes, or make any other changes to the existing council tax benefit system.
The council is also proposing to introduce a number of other measures to make the new scheme more efficient and easier to understand.
Steve Double, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Environment, Waste Management Policy and Shared Services said: “We appreciate that this is unwelcome news. What we have to do is find the fairest way to deal with the situation handed to us by the coalition government which will leave a £6m black hole in the council tax benefit budget. We want as many people as possible to give us their views on how we manage a situation which is not of this council’s making.”
As well as talking to their local Cornwall Councillor, people can give their views and comments using the online questionnaire available on the council’s website, along with more information, at www.cornwall.gov.uk/benefits
Leaflet and printed copies of the consultation questionnaire will be available in One Stop Shops, or from the Benefits Contact Centre by phoning them on: 0300 1234 121 or emailing them on: email@example.com .
The formal consultation will close at 9am on Monday, November 12.