Council tax benefit changes in store in Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 13:09 02 August 2012

Council tax

Council tax

Archant

CHANGES in the way council tax benefit payments are administered in Welwyn Hatfield are on the way.

And it will be bad news for some – as the Government has put in place a 10 per cent reduction in funding.

The changes are being brought about as part of the Welfare Reform Act, which puts the responsibility on local councils to find a way to meet local need.

Previously there has been a national approach.

Last year the council received around £7.9m from the Government, to be paid out in benefit to around 8,090 council tax benefit claimants.

That money will be cut by around £790,000.

The Government has ruled that in any scheme agreed by local councils, pensioners must be protected. In Welwyn Hatfield 42 per cent of council tax benefit claimants are pensioners.

The borough council’s cabinet will discuss details of a proposed scheme on Tuesday next week.

They may decide that other “vulnerable” groups also need to be protected.

This could include the disabled and families with children under five.

If this is the case the 10 per cent shortfall would have to be met by the remaining existing claimants.

Some would have to pay towards their council tax for the first time, while others would see their contributions increase.

Michel Saminaden, chief executive of Welwyn Hatfield Council, said: “As part of the most drastic shake-up in the history of benefit reform, this council, alongside every other borough or district council in the country, will have to make very tough decisions in the coming months regarding council tax support.

“Council tax benefit, which has previously been a nationalised scheme, will become localised as part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Act.

“With a 10 per cent reduction in Government funding, it will be up to individual councils to decide how to administer the scheme at a local level.

“Welwyn Hatfield Council’s cabinet meets on August 7 to agree a proposal which will then be taken forward to public consultation.

“Changes will be brought in from April 2013.”

Consultation will be undertaken with a sample of people the proposals will affect, throughout August and September.

A final scheme will then be taken to the council’s cabinet in December, with a report going to the full council in January.


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