The poorest residents in the borough are set to be protected from increased council tax bills in the spring.
At its meeting on 8 November, the council’s Cabinet agreed to recommend to Council that the borough’s Council Tax Support Scheme should be extended for the financial year 2022/23, so that recipients are not left worse off if their bills go up in April.
Each year, the council has to decide whether to update the scheme so that low levels of council tax are maintained for some pensioners and those on low incomes.
Eligibility for council tax support depends on factors including household income and those living with the person making the claim, including their children.
Based on levels of council tax support as of last month, it is estimated that £14.058 million will be granted in council tax support for 2022/23, assuming a 2% increase in council tax from April 2022. This figure includes the Greater London Authority’s share of the scheme – £3million. The cost for Merton Council will be £11.058 million.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “Many residents on low incomes are worried about how they are doing to make ends meet, with soaring gas prices, cuts to Universal Credit and the hike in National Insurance in the spring, so we want to prevent them from facing higher council tax bills in April.
“More people need this vital support now as a result of losing their jobs or income during the pandemic, which has pushed them into poverty. Although the council’s budget is facing unprecedented pressure, we are committed to doing everything we can to support those on the lowest incomes by offsetting increases in council tax bills.”