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Council reduces planned council tax bills for new payers

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Council reduces planned council tax bills for new payers

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Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Central Government, Communities

Council reduces planned council tax bills for new payers Council reduces planned council tax bills for new payers

A local authority in Kent has revised plans to cut council tax benefit for working-age households by 18.5% - instead, lowering the reduction to 8.5% for 2013/14.

The Government is reducing the overall cash available in council tax support by 10%, while at the same time protecting pensioners from any cuts and making councils responsible for deciding how it is paid.

Under Sevenoaks District Council's new scheme, someone who is not a pensioner who claims 100% council tax benefit on a band D property, for example, will be required to pay 8.5% of their £1,503 bill from next April – working out at £2.46 per week or £10 a month.

Critics of the reform warn that collecting small amounts of money from low-income households will actually be more costly, with some looking to protect claimants from any cuts in the first year.

The district council and other local authorities in Kent originally drew up a scheme so claimants, other than pensioners, would have seen their current council tax benefit reduced by 18.5%.

After listening to the views of local people and looking at all the options with its partners, Sevenoaks agreed a scheme that would reduce council tax support by 8.5% for 2013/14.

The amount of discount that will be available to help claimants pay their council tax in future years will be considered by the council late in 2013, it said.

Cllr Brian Ramsay, the council’s cabinet member for finance, says: "We were aware from the outset how the Government’s Council Tax Benefit changes would impact on our residents. This is why we have worked hard with our partners to do all we can to reduce the impact of the changes."

The council said the changes do mean that some people will have to pay more council tax than they currently do and others will have to pay council tax for the first time.

However, it warned residents who receive a council tax bill for the first time or who are being asked to pay more “not to ignore their bill, as doing so could lead to legal action”.

It said those who are concerned about not being able to pay their council tax should ask for help now from the council or from their local Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.

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