New council tax system to start in the springBy Jon Nurse
February 12, 2013
Benefits claimants will find out if they will be better or worse off when a new system arrives to plug a six-figure hole this spring.
A new council tax support scheme will start in April to help recoup £600,000 lost in funding from central Government. Changes to discounts on empty properties will save around 80 per cent of the shortfall. Wokingham Borough Council’s special executive committee approved the scheme on Thursday, where members praised officers’ work for not hitting the borough’s most vulnerable.
Councillor Anthony Pollock, executive member for finance, said: “All council tax payers are feeling the pinch so we needed to balance where we would get the money from. We estimate that 1,590 people will be a little worse off, while 700 will be a little better off.”
Around 5,100 households across the borough receive benefits and the council estimates the changes will only reduce the total value of awards made to claimants by 1.5 per cent.
Small changes to the scheme include the removal of extended payments for claimants moving from out-of-work benefits into employment, and the end of backdated awards prior to a claim date. Single people and couples will be able to earn more without affecting their benefit.
A hardship fund scheme will also be put in place for residents in financial need.