Mon, 16 July 2012
Hounslow households who rely on council tax benefit will be hit hard by government proposals to withdraw council tax benefit from April next year.
15,281 households across the borough will find themselves on average around £150 per year worse off because of the change. Working age claimants will have to accept a 15 per cent decrease in their benefit, which for most would mean a loss of between £10 and £20 per month. Most of these claimants would never have paid council tax before.
One group who will not be affected are the 6,779 pensioner households receiving council tax benefit who will not see a difference in their benefits.
Under the proposed changes, the current system will be scrapped and replaced with a direct grant from government that has been cut by 10 per cent from the existing level of support. This means that the council will have to create a scheme for the borough, which will be called council tax support.
From April, the government won’t provide enough money to help all the borough’s eligible residents – meaning the council has no choice but to pass the costs onto the claimants, leaving them worse off.
Cllr Ruth Cadbury, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “There is little doubt that council tax benefit claimants are going to find themselves worse off under this scheme.
“The simple fact of the matter is the government is giving us less money and expecting us to provide a new support scheme.
“If we ran the new scheme to the same levels as before, there would have to be cuts from other services to help us pay for it, which we are not prepared to make, or an increase in council tax.
“We will soon be launching a consultation on the effects of the scheme and would like to hear from those people affected about how it will impact on them.”
The council’s consultation will involve an online survey, with paper questionnaires also available. Leaflets explaining the changes will also be available at the Civic Centre, libraries and other council premises. The council is also planning to arrange a series of meetings so customers can attend to ask any questions they have on the new scheme.