It is an important decision, that the Bournemouth Full Council is making today, which is currently discussing the adoption of the new Local Council Tax reduction scheme.
Following the British government’s decision to let local councils coming up with their own local tax scheme, last week the Cabinet approved the new Local Council Tax reduction scheme which has been forwarded to the Full Council for adoption today.
The national benefit has been providing help to people with lower incomes towards their council tax bill but the British government decided earlier in the year, that from April 2013 local councils would be responsible for coming up with and running their own scheme for local residents and that by this 2012 the money the government will be able and willing to provide towards the costs of the local plan, will be at least 10% less.
The local scheme that the Cabinet agreed last week involves a tax reduction scheme.
Chris Dale, Revenues and Benefits Client Manager at Bournemouth Council, said:
“If the council did nothing and carried on paying as it did now, there would be a cost of 2.2 million £ which is unsustainable. So the scheme that we came up with is designed to try to mitigate some of that cost of the council but unfortunately this restricts the Council Tax liability eligible for support to 80% after other discounts and exemptions are applied, that is anyone not in the protected groups will pay a minimum of 20% of their Council Tax bill with the remaining 80% being means tested”.
The Council was required to have some consultation with preceptors and Council tax payers for the adoption of the scheme, and they seemed to agree with it overall.
But the introduction of this scheme, may cause hardship for those who struggle to increase their income.
“ One of the main things we’re trying to do to protect the most vulnerable” Mr Dale says, “is to protect pensioners as the government said, ensuring that they’re not going to pay any more council tax than what they do now, and we consider as most vulnerable as well people who cannot use other means to pay their council tax, that includes people who are disable or people who are getting a carer’s allowance”.
The other thing the Council is trying to do to protect the most vulnerable people is a Local Welfare Assistance Fund which has a value of roughly around about £750.000 which will be used to provide financial assistance to those whom the introduction of the LCTRS will cause more deprivation.
This part of the project remains on-going to establish the necessary managements arrangements for the Council and specific proposals will be brought forward for approval in February 2013.
Video: Cristina Odero
Feature Picture: Alwyn Ladell