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Householders on the lowest incomes protected
Release date: Tue, 18/12/2012
Mayor George Ferguson is set to protect Bristol householders on the lowest incomes under plans for the new local Council Tax benefit scheme.
A report to Cabinet this Thursday will recommend that Bristol introduces a fully funded scheme, which would be very similar to the current Council Tax Benefit scheme.
George Ferguson said: “These changes are being forced on us as part of the severe budget cuts by central Government. While I am proposing to raise Council Tax by less than the rate of inflation - an effective freeze - at the same time I want to protect those on the lowest incomes who would be hardest hit by any changes to their Council Tax benefits.
“I believe that a fully funded option is the only fair and effective way forward, and have decided to bite the bullet and go with it.”
The Government is abolishing the current national Council Tax Benefit Scheme and every local authority is developing its own alternative support scheme, to run from 1 April 2013.
At the same time, the Government is reducing funding for the new schemes - known as Council Tax Reduction schemes. In Bristol, the grant to the council is expected to be £29.1million, which is 18% lower than forecast claims.
Cabinet has already agreed to use new powers to remove Council Tax discounts for second homes and to lower allowances for empty properties, which will raise £2.5m to help meet the shortfall in funding.
The final decision on the new scheme will be taken at Full Council on 15 January.
A public consultation was carried out from August to October to find out people’s views on how Local Council Tax Reduction should be managed. Feedback from the consultation has been analysed and is included in the report to cabinet, to help inform their decision.