Essex residents urged to have their say on council tax benefit changes
1 August 2012
Essex County Council is urging all residents who currently receive council tax benefit to ensure they take part in consultations being launched by their local councils over the coming weeks on changes to the system.
The consultations will help shape the eligibility criteria the boroughs, districts, unitary and city councils will use to provide support to people in their area under the Local Council Tax Support scheme (LCTS).
LCTS, which is being introduced in April as part of the government’s welfare reforms, replaces the current council tax benefit system and so directly affects those people who currently receive this benefit.
Each council who are the council tax billing authorities, along with Essex County Council, will now receive government funding to provide support with council tax bills. This means each authority needs to develop schemes meeting their own local needs.
However, due to reductions to the national funding pot, increasing caseloads and the need to ensure the new schemes provide contingencies mean Essex authorities could receive a total of around £14m less next year than they spent last year.
Essex County Councillor David Finch, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “The changes to the council tax benefit system could have major implications for some of the most vulnerable members in our community.
“The district, borough, unitary and city councils will be contacting those who could be affected by these changes to encourage them to take part in the consultation. It is vitally important that people take this opportunity to help shape the most effective and fairest system for their local area.”
While local authorities are developing schemes to meet the needs of their own areas shared principles have been agreed by a cross-Essex working group. Full details of each of the local consultations will be available on the individual local authority’s websites.