Green light given to reduce tax support

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Some of the most vulnerable people in the district could pay more than double the amount council tax next year after a cut to financial support was provisionally approved.

The Council Tax Support Scheme (CTSS) provides financial assistance to district residents on a low income by reducing the amount of tax they have to pay.

Under CTSS the local authorities can pay some or all of someone’s bill up to a cap, although exactly what proportion is covered is means tested.

Currently the amount the DDC can pay is capped at 91.5 per cent. The new proposal would drop that to 80 per cent.

For the average band D home being charged £1,150 a year under the current level, they could pay as little as £97 a year or £1.87 a week. Under the 80 per cent rule that changes to £250 a year or £4.42 a week – a £2.55 increase.

Labour’s Cllr Abigail Campbell voted against the proposals, which are out to consultation until October 20. She said: “I have big concerns about the impact this could have on vulnerable people.”

Pensioners, who make up 48 per cent of those claiming CTSS, will be protected from any changes. Instead the cuts will fall on the 2,250 claimants currently of working age.

Cllr Campbell said: “The council says the measure will not impact on vulnerable people but everybody on this scheme is vulnerable and we should be doing more to help them. Most of those people are working, they are just being paid so little. They are counting the pennies. There is assumption claimants can handle the £2.55 a week increase, but previous increases have forced cash-strapped families to turn to other services, such as food banks. They are trying their hardest, but something has got to give.”

CTSS is funded by a government grant which has been cut this year by 15.6 per cent.

Anne Bamfield, manager at Daventry Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said: “Our clients are already experiencing great difficulty in paying their council tax and any further increase would only put further pressure on them.”

The measure goes back to DDC’s strategy group in November before a final vote in December. You can view the proposal at www.daventrydc.gov.uk/consultation.