Have your say on council tax benefits
October 05, 2012
Wokingham people can have their say on changes to council tax benefits.
A public consultation is under way into how the borough council can axe £600,000 from its £5 million annual benefits bill.
From April, Wokingham Borough Council will have to pick up the benefit bill now paid by central government.
The council will receive a grant to fund 90 per cent of the cost, but needs to plug the shortfall.
It has identified empty properties, levels of savings, backdated payments and the second adult rebate as areas where savings can be made.
Exemptions made to pensioners and vulnerable people will be protected.
A document published by the borough states there are 198 properties that have been empty for more than two years. Under the proposals, the owners of these properties would be charged 150 per cent of the council tax rate.
Owners of empty homes that are being renovated will have their council tax exemption period cut from 12 to six months. In 2011/12, 95 properties in the borough qualified for this exemption.
Second homes are eligible for a 10 per cent discount, but this would be removed if the proposals go ahead.
The council tax benefit is paid to people on low incomes but recipients can have savings of up to £16,000. Under the proposals, people with savings of more than £6,000, or £10,000 if they are vulnerable, will not receive the benefit. This change does not apply to pensioners.
A questionnaire is available at the council’s offices or online at www.wokingham.gov.uk/council/consultations/counciltaxbenefit