Have your say on tax changes

RESIDENTS across South Normanton, Tibshelf and Pinxton are being urged not to miss their chance to give their views on how Council Tax Benefit is calculated in future, as a public consultation taking place across North Derbyshire nears its deadline.

Bolsover, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire district councils have been encouraging people to have their say on a proposed new system – being introduced after the Government announced massive cuts in the amount councils receive to fund the scheme.

The changes mean that from April Bolsover District Council area would have a £700,000 shortfall in the amount needed to maintain Council Tax benefits at current levels.

The authorities have now worked together to come up with a new system for calculating the benefit that would make up the cuts.  People have until the end of October to find out more about what it could mean for them, and have their say.

Visit www.bolsover.gov.uk for details.

Bolsover District Council Leader Cllr Eion Watts said: “The government’s reforms will have a big impact on local people who currently get help to pay their Council Tax bill, so it’s crucial that people find out how they could be affected, and give us their views, before the end of the month.”

Cllr John Burrows, Chesterfield Borough Council Leader, added that together with other changes to the welfare system being introduced by the government, it could add up to a significant reduction in the amount of support that local families receive.  “Many people have already been in touch and given us their views, but this has implications for families across all three areas and we would urge anyone who hasn’t been involved to find out more before the deadline.”

And North East Derbyshire District Council Leader Cllr Graham Baxter MBE added: “On top of the other government welfare changes, we estimate some people could see a reduction in their benefit of up to £100 per month. For those on low incomes that is a huge amount.”

Until now there has been a national system for calculating Council Tax Benefit, but following the cuts it will be up to each area to develop its own system that accounts for the reduction in government support.  Bolsover, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire have worked together to come up with a proposed system that is as fair as possible to those on low incomes - and that protects people currently of pension age from any benefit reduction – balanced with the need to make up the cut in government funding.

Under the proposed system for the three council areas:

The amount of Council Tax Benefit received by working-age claimants would be reduced. The amount of reduction would depend on the person’s individual circumstances.

People currently of pensionable age would not be affected, so their Council Tax Benefit would not be reduced.

People can find out more and have their say by visiting their councils’ websites, by picking up a consultation leaflet from libraries and council buildings or by visiting an information session (see ‘Note to Editors’). Everyone can comment, not just those who currently receive the benefit.