Harlow Council to consult residents on council tax

News / Wed 16th Sep 2015 at 11:04am

HARLOW Council is asking all residents to have their say on its Local Council Tax Support scheme which provides help to low income households with their overall Council Tax bill.

The Council Tax Support scheme, which costs Harlow Council, Essex County Council, Essex Fire & Rescue Service and Essex Police & Crime Commissioner just over £6 million pounds a year, provides help to around 8,400 households in Harlow of which around 5,000 of these are working age households. Currently working age households receiving support are required to pay a minimum 24% of their Council Tax bill.

Continued reductions in Government funding, and increasing financial pressures on Councils may mean that the Council has to consider reducing the amount of support given. Pensioners have been protected from any reductions by the Government meaning any changes would only affect working age claimants.

The funding to support the scheme received from Government has continued to reduce along with the other central funding cuts and is expected to continue to reduce in future years. To date, Harlow Council has not amended its local scheme to reflect this reduced funding and has not increased the contribution that working age claimants must make towards their Council Tax bills.

Decisions about how to fund the Council Tax Support scheme include varying the maximum level of help given under the scheme, as well as considering alternative funding options such as reducing the spending on other services, or increasing the Council Tax overall. This is why it is important all residents have their say.

Councillor Mike Danvers, Portfolio Holder for Resources, said: “It is vitally important that we hear from all residents– including those not receiving Council Tax support. In April 2013, the Council had to take on the responsibility for Council Tax benefit from the Government but with less funding. Due to ongoing Government funding reductions the Council continues to face difficult decisions about how to fund the scheme, with Harlow Council’s share of the costs being around £1m a year. We want to involve all residents in a review of our Council Tax Support scheme and how it is funded. This is about listening to the views of all residents while providing the fairest scheme possible to those who need it.”

The public consultation runs for six weeks until Sunday 25 October 2015 and is open to everyone in Harlow, including local support organisations. The scheme will be considered by Cabinet and reviewed and agreed by Council in December 2015.

More information about the scheme and a link to the online consultation can be found at: www.harlow.gov.uk/lcts-consultation

Paper copies are available from the Revenues & Benefits Team by phoning 01279 446688.

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