Merton proposes to retain Council Tax Benefit scheme for 2013/14
Merton Council’s cabinet has agreed to consider continuing to help people who already receive Council Tax Benefit (CTB) by retaining the existing CTB scheme for the next financial year.
The council is undertaking a formal consultation on the proposed new local Council Tax Support scheme from 9 July to 28 September. This will include drop-in days on 24 July, 2 August and 15 August, between 10am and 12pm at the Link, at the Civic Centre. All feedback received will be collated and used to shape the recommendations to the Full Council for the new 2013/14 scheme. All residents can have their say by filling in the short questionnaire online at http://www.merton.gov.uk/hb-ctb.htm.
The scheme, which must be agreed by 31 January 2013, will come into effect on 1 April 2013 and cannot be changed before 31 March 2014. The council’s preferred option is to keep the existing scheme because adopting an alternative scheme would result in around 10,000 residents who currently need financial assistance having to contribute more towards Council Tax.
As part of the Spending Review 2010, the Government announced plans to give responsibility for CTB to local councils, but to reduce the amount it gives to councils for this by 10% from 1 April 2013. This means Merton losing approximately £1.4-1.47 million.
The Government has stated that councils may set up new schemes, potentially offering less support to residents, but any new scheme must meet the following requirements:
– Pensioners must not be worse off
– Support for other vulnerable groups under Child Poverty, the Disabled Persons Act and the Housing Act must continue
– People should be encouraged to work
– Consultation must be undertaken
Merton Council’s cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: ‘At a time when many people are struggling financially, our top priority remains keeping Council Tax low. We therefore think it’s important not to cut the help we give working families, carers, and others on low incomes with paying their Council Tax. We are having to make lots of savings across the council at this time, but by spending residents’ money carefully we are trying to keep their cost of living down. This consultation is a chance for local residents to have their say. We hope the people of Merton will back the proposal.’
Notes to editors:
– Spending Review 2010