Council tax benefit cut by ten per cent

Council Tax Form  (w120822-2b)
Council Tax Form (w120822-2b)

LOW income families and those without work are just a few who will lose out when funding for council tax support is slashed by £400,000 across the Dales.

As part of the government’s welfare reform programme – which proposes replacing council tax benefit with localised schemes – all claimants of a ‘working age’ in the Dales will have their support cut by ten per cent in April 2013.

Cllr Lewis Rose, Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, said: “The government has given us no choice but to make changes that will affect local people. We have worked hard to develop a draft scheme that balances the need for savings with maintaining protection for vulnerable households.”

Under the proposed new system, the district council intends to protect the amount pensioners receive and will increase council tax on second homes to soften the blow for other claimants.

Cllr Rose added: “Without this change the benefit reduction for working age claimants would be 24 per cent.”

However, the proposals have caused concerns for many Mercury readers.

Karen Sanders, of Tansley, said: “As a single unemployed person I will have to find [an extra] ten per cent for council tax plus another 14 per cent for having a spare bedroom.

“After paying gas, electric, water and television licence, I’ll have £25 a fortnight for food and other household items. This is the reality for the single unemployed – and I was only made redundant this year.”

Amy Horobin, of Rowsley, said: “People who receive council tax benefit are low income families or lone parents. Increase the bills of people who are already struggling? Seems an excellent way for the government to get us out of a recession.”

Derbyshire Dales District Council is now asking residents to give their opinions on the proposals, though, and urges people with suggestions to visit www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/ctbenefits.

Cllr Rose said: “The consultation is open to everyone who lives in the Derbyshire Dales, not only people whose benefit could be reduced. We are also consulting local organisations such as welfare and support agencies.”

The consultation period will run until November 21 and there will also be area community forums in Ashbourne, Bakewell and Darley Dale throughout October.

l Will YOU be affected by these changes? Let us know what you think about the cuts.

Email news@matlockmercury.co.uk