Poor families hit by Council Tax rise

AROUND 5,500 of Bassetlaw’s poorest families are set to lose vital cash support as up to £1m is slashed in Council Tax Benefit funding.

Residents on council tax benefits will have to pay more under new changes.

Families on low incomes will be expected to pay around £84 a year extra from April 2013 as part of the Government’s welfare shake up.

This means working age claimants who are currently entitled to 100 per cent rebate on their Council Tax will now have to pay an average of £7 a month.

Only pensioners and vulnerable people, such as the severely disabled, will be exempt from the changes.

The changes come after a public consultation held during autumn last year.

Coun Sylvia May, cabinet member for revenues, customer and support services, said the decision had not been made lightly.

“These changes have been enforced on us by the Government and we have had to work very hard over the past 18 months to come up with a solution,” she said.

“Some authorities are increasing their Council Tax bills by up to 23 per cent, but we have capped our discount at 92 per cent which means Bassetlaw residents will face a bill of around 8 per cent.”

She added: “We stand by our commitment to getting people out of poverty and are proud of our anti-poverty strategy. We recognise that these changes will hit some families very hard and we will be setting up a hardship fund to help those who won’t be able to manage to pay.”

Council Tax Benefit has been paid since 1993 to households who receive a low income because they are entitled to Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, or are working but receive a low wage.

But now the Government has announced it intends to cut the money it currently spends on welfare benefits.

Bassetlaw Citizens Advice Bureau director Stephen Saddington said: “We appreciate the difficult position the local authority faces in bringing forward a local Council Tax benefit scheme from April 2013, and doing so within the context of nationally reduced budgets.”

“In addition, working age residents living in social housing will also be hit by changes to the Housing Benefit rules, known as Bedroom Tax, at the same time.”

He added: “Bassetlaw CAB is concerned that the Council Tax changes combined with changes to housing benefit will have a devastating effect on large number of residents with low income households some of whom are disabled.”

Call North Notts CAB on 0844 856 3411 for more information.