Brent Council will be consulting in June on the level of Council Tax payment for those on benefits. It is likely that many families and individuals will have to pay more.
From the Brent Council website:
The Government is abolishing the Council Tax Benefit scheme and is asking councils to replace it with their own locally run service called Council Tax Support. To ensure we have a scheme that suits our borough Brent is consulting with residents on its proposals.
As well as having to create a local scheme that is suitable for Brent, the council will also have to work within a budget that has been reduced by ten per cent. Early estimates suggest this represents an initial reduction of at least £3.5 million, but this gap will increase if the number of people claiming benefit goes up, which already appears to be the trend.
This shortage in funding means we have to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial support and how much.
To create a system that is as fair as possible and in line with the needs of the community, Brent Council is putting together proposals for a new system and is consulting with residents to see how you feel this would work in our borough.
The benefit system is facing a radical over-haul which was kick started back in 2011 with changes to Housing Benefit For the most part reform has meant the amount of money available to councils has been reduced.
At the same time, the Government has introduced the Localism Bill, much of this bill involves the government handing over control of budgets and decision making powers to local councils. One of the many benefits to be affected by these changes is the national Council Tax Benefit scheme which will be replaced by local Council Tax Support in April 2013.
- Every single council will have their own local Council Tax Support scheme, with its own eligibility criteria.
- Next year Brent will have ten per cent less money for Council Tax Support than it currently spends on Council Tax Benefit. It will also have to manage what it spends on helping people within this budget, even if more people start to claim benefit.
- The government has specified that certain groups such as pensioners will be protected and should see no changes to their entitlement - however, it's up to each council to consider whether to protect other groups - and how to fund any extra protections.
- The government wants councils to incentivise people to find work, by making the system support them better when they move into work.
- Brent has to decide whether to change the current rules for claiming Council Tax Benefit in order to operate the new scheme at a lower cost. However, if a council decides to keep the current scheme and continues to assess people as the government does now, then it will have to make cuts to other services in order to make up the reduction in funding.
Consultation starts in June and ends in early August. A decision - taking account of your feedback for a localised version of the scheme - will be made later in the year.