Epping Forest District Council’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme has been agreed and adopted by Full Council at its meeting on 18 December. From 1 April 2013 Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by the Local Council Tax Support Scheme (LCTS) as a consequence of the Welfare Reform Act.
From April 2013 people of working age who pay no Council Tax may have to pay some, and those who currently pay some may have to pay more. Key elements of the new scheme are:
- The calculation of support based on 80% of the Council Tax bill, rather than 100% at present
- Anyone of working age who lives in a higher Council Tax band, will have their support calculated as if their property was a Band D
- Inclusion of child maintenance in the calculation (excluding the first £15 per week per family)
- The capital limit (personal savings) will be reduced from the current level of £16,000 to £6,000
- Second adult rebate will not be included in the scheme for people of working age
- A minimum award of £0.50 per week. This is in line with the minimum award in housing benefit
- The inclusion of an Exceptional Hardship Fund to help the most vulnerable customers affected by the changes
Pension age people are protected from any reduction to their benefit payments under the new scheme although they may need to pay more if Council Tax increases.
Residents who are currently in receipt of Council Tax Benefit will be contacted in the New Year with details of the impact of these changes. Residents are being advised to go online in advance of this communication to find out whether they will be affected by the introduction of LCTS at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/index.php/residents/council-tax
Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio Holder said: “Councils across Essex have worked together to implement schemes that limit the impact of the central government grant cuts on our most vulnerable residents. The district is losing approximately £1 million a year compared with the old scheme. Pensioners are protected and people in some of the other most vulnerable groups. We have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets help and how much but we feel that the proposals are as fair as possible to the majority of people within the resources available.”
Funding allocated to Councils for LCTS has been cut by 10% and is frozen at 2011 levels; this results in a drop of £1m for Epping Forest District.
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