Consultation on proposed changes to council tax support in Wellingborough

A consultation is being carried out on changes to council tax support in Wellingborough

A consultation is being carried out on changes to council tax support in Wellingborough

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Wellingborough residents are being asked to give their views on proposed changes to council tax support.

Council tax support (CTS) is a scheme that grants discounts to people on low incomes to help them pay their council tax bills.

Changes are being proposed following new government welfare rules which mean more support could be granted than is currently budgeted for.

The consultation runs until November 30 and Wellingborough Council is encouraging all residents to take part, as changes to the scheme have the potential to affect everyone in the borough.

Wellingborough Council collects council tax from residents, which is used to pay for local services such as schools, community policing, refuse collections and much more.

The money is split three ways with 75 per cent going to Northamptonshire County Council, 14 per cent going to the police, and 11 per cent to the borough council itself.

Council tax support grants discounts of up to 80 per cent for people on low incomes who need help paying their council tax bill.

Wellingborough Council raises £37 million in council tax charges every year, which is the total of everyone’s bills before any discounts are applied.

The CTS scheme grants annual discounts of just over £4 million, meaning that about £33 million is collected by the council and split between the three authorities every year.

Council leader Paul Bell said: “Council tax support is funded locally, and not by the government.

“Put simply, the more CTS we grant, the less council tax we collect.

“Every local authority sets its own CTS scheme.

“The Government has told us how we must operate it for pensioners, but we have flexibility in deciding a scheme for working-age people.

“At the moment we ask working-age people to pay at least 20 per cent of their bill, and by doing that we’ve been able to finance the CTS scheme through our annual budgets.

“However, the Government recently announced a number of changes, including reductions to tax credits and the introduction of Universal Credit in our area.

“CTS is means-tested, so we calculate the amount people are entitled to based on their income.

“If their income is reduced because of these government changes, then the amount of CTS we grant may be increased.

“This could mean that less council tax is collected to pay for local services unless we make changes to our CTS scheme.”

The council is consulting on a number of options.

These include reducing the amount of help working age people are entitled to, to reduce extra pressure on council budgets; or making no change or increasing the amount of help people can get, both of which would require savings to be found elsewhere in the council’s budget.

A number of other changes are also proposed, to bring the way council tax support is calculated in line with other benefits.

None of the proposed changes will affect pensioners, who will still be entitled to claim up to 100 per cent support on their council tax bill.

The consultation runs until November 30.

Leaflets can be picked up from either of the council’s two town centre receptions, or completed online at www.wellingborough.gov.uk/counciltax

Once the consultation has closed, a final decision on the council tax support scheme will be made by councillors early next year.

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