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Time's running out to comment on new council tax support scheme

[Thursday 20 September 2012]

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There are less than two weeks left for people to comment on new draft council tax support schemes for Torridge and North Devon.

The new arrangements will replace the national Council Tax Benefit scheme, which is being abolished by the Government from April 2013.

A consultation exercise was launched on 6 August and will run until 1 October. It's a chance for all residents to comment on the new schemes North Devon and Torridge District Councils have designed in a bid to spread the impact of the cuts as fairly as possible.

So far, Torridge has received 519 responses and North Devon over 800 responses, from a mixture of people who currently claim Council Tax Benefit and residents who are able to pay their Council Tax in full. Both Councils would like to see more responses from both groups before the consultation closes.

The Government has stipulated that:
  • Pensioners will see no change to the amount of help they currently receive as existing Council Tax Benefit rules will continue to apply
  • Any new scheme must encourage people to work and in particular should not make people feel less keen to get a job
  • The impact on the most vulnerable must be considered when designing new schemes.
As pensioners are protected from the change, low-paid working-age residents are set to face the brunt of the cuts. The main groups affected directly are individuals or families who currently claim Council Tax Benefit.

Those working age people who are affected will see their Council Tax Support reduced by an amount yet to be finalised, but in some cases it could mean a drop of around 30% in Torridge and 25% in North Devon. This could reduce the amount of Council Tax Support for some households in Torridge by about £362 a year (Based on a band B property in Bideford) and £308 a year in North Devon (based on a band B property in Barnstaple).

A total of 2,900 working-age people are likely to be affected in Torridge and about 4,300 in North Devon, but all residents are invited to comment.

People can have their say on the new scheme for Torridge online or paper copies can be collected from the council offices in Bideford, Torrington or Holsworthy. For more information please call 01237 428700 and ask for the benefits team.

North Devon Council's consultation is also available online. For more information please call 01271 388871, send an email or visit the council offices at Lynton House in Barnstaple, The Amory Centre in South Molton and The Ilfracombe Centre.

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