Cuts spell trouble for people on benefits
by Lewis Dyson
People who claim council tax benefit are likely to feel the
pinch as Swale council attempts to claw back a £1.5m funding
The government is slashing the money it provides local
authorities for council tax relief and asked them to come up with
their own schemes to fill the gap.
Cabinet councillors gave their backing to plans this month to
reduce claimants’ discounts by as much as 18.5%.
If approved at January’s full council meeting, from April 2013
nearly 8,000 residents will be affected.
This includes people who claim Income Support, Employment and
Support Allowance, JobSeekers’ Allowance and those on low
Pensioners will be protected and there will be no change in the
25% discount for households with just one adult.
The new scheme was drawn up because the grant handed down by
central government to cover the relief will be reduced by 10%.
Based on the £11,572,172 the council received last year, Swale
has to cut approximately £1.5 million from the support it
Swale council leader, Cllr Andrew Bowles, ruled out dipping into
savings to cover the funding loss.
He said: “I think we could have done without this to be blunt.
It has come as another uncertainty at a time when we have got too
many of those.”
The changes would mean a person living in a Band D property, who
received a 25% discount from their £1,414 bill in 2012 would get a
6.5% discount next year, meaning they would pay about £260
Cllr Bowles said members are working with Kent County Council to
come up with a joint scheme and in the first year they hope to
reduce the 18.5% figure down to 8.5%.
Other options are to remove the discounts on second homes and
long term empty homes, which would mean claimants’ relief would
only be reduced by 15%.
Cllr Bowles said that reduction would be achieved by applying to
the Department for Communities and Local Government for a grant of
He added that the council has boosted its customer service team
by a couple of people to help residents get to grips with the new
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