The Government has announced that, from April 2013, Council Tax Benefit will be abolished and replaced with a local Council Tax Support Scheme.
Every Council has to introduce its own individual Council Tax Support Scheme by January 2013, ready for when the annual Council Tax bills are issued in April 2013.
Council Tax Benefit helps people on low incomes pay their Council Tax. The changes will only apply to people of working age - pensioners will be fully protected and will see no reduction in the help they currently receive with their Council Tax.
Mansfield District Council will have its funding for Council Tax Support cut by around 10 per cent by the Government.
The funding reduction for Mansfield District Council and other organisations who receive a share of the Council Tax bill, such as Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottinghamshire Police Authority and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue, will be well over £1m.
Mansfield District Council has developed a draft Council Tax Support Scheme which will help cover some, but not all of the funding gap. The main proposals follow the current national Council Tax Benefit Scheme but with some changes.
This will mean that:
Everyone of working age will pay something towards their Council Tax bill,
Work incentives will be built into the scheme, and
People with children or disabilities will continue to be protected as Child Benefit or Disability Living Allowance will not be counted as income in our calculations.
To help reduce this budget gap further, the Council may have to make changes to some of the discounts awarded on empty properties, second homes and properties that are being structurally repaired. Single person rebates of 25% will not change in any way.
The Council is therefore giving people the chance to have their say on its plans for the new Council Tax Support scheme until Sunday 4 November 2012, to help it devise a final scheme which is fair and makes the best use of the funding available.
Questionnaires, which can be returned in the pre-paid envelopes provided, will be sent directly to all current working age council tax benefit claimants and a random selection of Council Tax payers across the District. The questionnaire can also be completed online at www.mansfield.gov.uk/ctconsultation
A dedicated telephone helpline 01623 463 522 has been set up to answer any general questions people may have about the draft scheme and related issues. The line will be open from 9.30am to 4.30pm on weekdays throughout the consultation period.
Coun Roger Sutcliffe, Portfolio Holder for Resources, said: “It is important that people take part in this consultation, as the information you supply will be used to help us make the decisions on the final Council Tax Support Scheme.”
After the consultation has closed, all responses will be considered in relation to the new Council Tax Support Scheme. A decision will be taken in December 2012 and the results will be available shortly afterwards on the Council’s website www.mansfield.gov.uk