By Ewan Foskett
Saturday, September 8, 2012
VIEWS on benefit changes which will hit some of Crow country’s most vulnerable residents are being collected by councils.
A consultation on the scrapping of Council Tax Benefit has been launched by both South Cambs District Council (SCDC) and North Herts District Council (NHDC), which will be responsible for designing their own relief schemes.
From April next year, central government will replace Council Tax Benefit with the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).
A 10 per cent funding cut will be imposed on councils with an NHDC statement saying it will have “significant financial implications for some claimants”.
The authority will quiz 6,000 existing claimants on a proposed scheme designed to protect pensioners, people with children under five, and people with disabilities. It will run until November, and senior councillors will consider it in December.
Councillor Terry Hone, the authority’s portfolio holder for Finance & IT, said: “The council is encouraging anyone with a view on this important matter to get involved with the consultation.
“The council will carefully consider all responses before finalising the scheme in time for implementation next April. If any interested Community Groups would like our officers to address them directly, they should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help.”
Whereas NHDC is asking residents to get in touch, SCDC has taken to the road to meet those who will be affected.
A road show kicked off this week, which will tour the district, although it will not be in Crow country until September 29, when a team will be at Melbourn Village Hall from midday to 4pm
SCDC is considering setting a maximum limit on the amount of council tax benefit that can be paid, increasing contributions from adult members of the household who do not receive the benefit, or a blanket reduction for all claimants who will not be protected.
To reduce the impact of the changes it is also consulting on changes that would end to exemptions for vacant and second homes, and is suggesting a move to get homes that have been empty for more than two years back into use by charging a premium on council tax.