New Council Tax scheme protects 14,000 households

Merton Council announced today that, under its new Council Tax Support Scheme, it will not be raising Council Tax in 2013-14 for 14,000 households across Merton.

The scheme is to benefit households who are currently receiving financial support and comes into effect on 1 April 2013 until 31 March 2014. It will be reviewed during 2014-15. Any changes arising from the review will be considered as part of the 2015-16 budget process.

Merton is implementing the new scheme due to government plans for councils to develop and administer their own local Council Tax support schemes from 2013-14. The Government also cut the amount of funding it will give to local authorities for Council Tax support by 10% from 1 April 2013 and by a further 10% from April 2014. This will result in Merton losing approximately £1.4-1.47 million during 2013-14 and £1.2m in 2014-15.

Following the Government’s decision to remove the national Council Tax Benefit scheme, the council consulted with residents last year about a new Council Tax scheme. It proposed a new Council Tax Support Scheme that keeps support at the same level as the existing scheme. Out of the 1,007 responses received, the vast majority wanted Council Tax support in 2013-14 to remain unchanged. Councillors shared this view, voting at a Full Council meeting, in November 2012, for a local scheme that keeps Council Tax support the same as in previous years.

Merton Council’s cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We are committed to helping those residents who already receive Council Tax Benefit for the next financial year, unless their circumstances change.

“At a time when many people are facing financial difficulties, we did not think it was right to cut financial support and put up tax for lower income households. Making them pay more tax would have a significant and detrimental impact on their families.

“We want to keep Council Tax low for everyone, and have frozen Council Tax for two years, and this new scheme will mean no Council Tax rise for the 14,000 Merton households who sadly need financial assistance.”

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