Council Tax Support Scheme for Central Bedfordshire
Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) are required to introduce a local Council Tax Support Scheme from April 2013 as part of the Government's reform of welfare benefits.
A new scheme to replace Council Tax Benefits in Central Bedfordshire has been recommended by the Executive to the full Council for approval on 24th January 2013.
While wanting to protect those with little or no earnings capacity, CBC have had to reduce the overall cost of the Council Tax Support scheme by £1.7 million to reflect reduced government funding. The proposed Council Tax Support scheme has the following key principles in mind:
- The scheme should be affordable
- A fair contribution – those who can pay Council Tax, should pay
- The scheme should incentivise work
- Protecting the most vulnerable
CBC's final scheme reflects feedback from public consultation which took place from August to November last year. Responses, including 1,689 questionnaires as well as emails and letters and a telephone survey of 500 households, showed that the majority of respondents supported the Council's proposed scheme.
Under the new scheme, people with capacity to earn will be required to pay at least 25 per cent of their Council tax total bill, even if they pay nothing now.
However, the new scheme ensures that pensioners will have the same level of protection as they do now. There will also be protections for other groups of vulnerable customers such as carers, lone parents with children under five, some disabled people and war widows.
The new scheme also includes added work incentives for low income families, so there will be an increased advantage in earning an income without jeopardizing Council Tax support.
Owners of empty and second homes will no longer receive a Council Tax discount or exemption under the new scheme. In keeping with the Council's commitment to bringing long-term empty homes back into use, there is a proposal to charge home owners Council Tax at a premium rate of 150 per cent on houses left empty for over two years.
In response to consultation feedback, the Executive has agreed to establish a Hardship Fund to make discretionary payments in exceptional circumstances for those really struggling to pay. Premiums and Personal Allowances used to calculate entitlement to Council Tax Support will be increased at the rate of inflation from 2014/15.
CBC believe that they have worked hard to develop a Council Tax Support scheme that is designed to be affordable and fair and the positive response from the consultation shows that the majority of respondents agreed.
You can read the full scheme online.
The scheme will now go to full Council on 24 January for final approval. The changes will take place from 1 April.
Source: Central Bedfordshire Council
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