A consultation on changes to the council tax benefit system is drawing to a close and people have just two more weeks to respond.
From April 1, 2013 the current council tax benefit scheme is being abolished by the Government. Council tax benefit is claimed by low or no income households to help them pay their council tax. Currently it is a nationally regulated scheme, with rules about who is entitled set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The East Riding of Yorkshire council currently processes and pays around 28,000 council tax benefit claims of which around 15,500 (58 per cent) are pensioners who are excluded from any changes and will continue to be protected under the existing scheme.
All local authorities have been required by the Government to design their own local schemes to support those who need help with their council tax. The scheme is only applicable to working age households as pensioners are protected and will not see any changes in their assessments as a result of the new scheme.
The Government will be reducing the funding available to local authorities to deliver the new scheme, which will mean that there will be less money available to support working age residents. In the East Riding in 2011/12 around £23 million was spent on council tax benefit. The funding for 2013/14 will be reduced by at least £2.5 million. Savings will need to be made by either reducing the support provided to working age claimants or by finding savings elsewhere in the council’s budget.