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Monday 17 July

Have your say on council tax reduction scheme

People are being asked their views on changes to the council tax reduction scheme for 2018/19.

Before April 2013, council tax payers could apply for council tax benefit and receive up to 100 per cent discount on their council tax bill, and the council received full funding from the government.

Changes introduced by the government abolished the council tax benefit scheme from April 2013 and made local councils responsible for setting up their own local council tax reduction schemes (CTRS) for working age people.

The government also reduced the amount of funding given to councils to pay for the schemes.

Swale‘s CTRS means working age claimants must pay at least 20 per cent of their council tax liability.

When it was introduced, the scheme saw approximately 5,000 households paying some council tax for the first time, and around 2,500 others who had been receiving some assistance saw their bills increase.

The funding to support the scheme Swale receive from government has continued to fall, and is expected to continue to reduce in future years.

In light of this, the council is consulting on a number of possible changes to the CTRS and wants to hear people’s views.

Cllr Duncan Dewar-Whalley, cabinet member for finance and performance at the council, said:

"With continued reductions in the grant we receive from government, we want to see if there are any changes we can make that can reduce the cost of the scheme, which are ultimately borne by local council tax payers.

"Any changes could have profound impacts on local people so it’s important we hear as many views as possible so we can make an informed decision.”

At the end of March 2017, there were 11,561 applicants claiming CTRS, which is predicted to cost £9 million this financial year. The costs are divided between the different authorities that receive money from the council tax bill, which is currently:

There are six proposed changes being considered for the CTRS, which can be seen as part of the online consultation. These changes would only affect working age claims.

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