Jan 29 2013 by Andrew Brown, Formby Times
RESIDENTS in Formby affected by new changes to the Council Tax benefits system are being written to.
The current Council Tax benefit scheme is being abolished by the Government from April this year, and all UK councils have to replace it with their own local proposal, called the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
The new system will start on April 1 and last Thursday (January 24), Sefton Council approved its own Council Tax Reduction Scheme at a full council meeting at Southport Town Hall.
As part of the scheme, Sefton Council is required to ensure that all pensioners are not affected by these changes.
Apart from pensioners, everyone currently entitled to Council Tax Benefit will be affected by this.
At the moment, there are more than 17,000 working age residents in the borough who receive Council Tax benefit.
Under the new scheme, set to be introduced in Sefton on April, 1:
All working age claimants will have to pay at least 20% of their Council Tax bill. This includes people who did not have any Council Tax to pay for in previous years;
Claimants with capital or savings of more than £6,000 will no longer qualify under the new scheme;
There will be no eligibility for a second adult rebate;
Existing non-dependent deductions will be replaced by two flat rate deductions of £2 and £5 per week.
Letters highlighting the changes will be sent out to all working claimants but, they will not give exact details on how much they have to pay from April 1.
These figures will not be available until Sefton Council’s budget has been set on February 28 and further correspondence will be sent.
Sefton Council leader Cllr Peter Dowd said: “We have known we have had to bring in our own scheme for some time, and extensive consultation has taken place right across the borough to find the best possible outcome for residents.
“But, as the Government said it will no longer fully fund the new scheme, they have also reduced the amount of money it gives to councils.
“In Sefton, this equates to an overall reduction of 13%, or about £3.7m, for our own scheme.
“This has meant we have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial support and how much they will get. Through this scheme, we have tried to make it as fair as possible considering the financial restraints we are under.”
There will also be changes to the amount of Council Tax people pay relating to unfurnished empty homes and second homes.