Councils have begun consulting on changes to council tax benefit which is likely to see people who have not previously been charged being required to pay it.
As part of the Government's new welfare reforms, from April 1 next year, council tax benefit will be replaced by localised support schemes to help people on low incomes pay council tax.
The Government is planning to reduce funding for council tax support by at least 10 per cent nationally which means councils will have to reduce the level of support to current council tax benefit recipients.
In Epsom this amounts to more than £350,000.
The Coalition Government has said pensioners on low income should continue to receive support with their council tax on the same basis as the current council tax benefit scheme - which means that the impact on younger people will be even greater.
A spokesman for Epsom council said: "The proposals aim to ensure the protection already offered to vulnerable customers is retained, through income disregards and applicable amounts.
"The council also wants to ensure minimum levels of disruption for existing customers and any new residents wishing to claim this support.
"Those already in receipt of council tax benefit will be transferred automatically to the new scheme."
Councillor Clive Woodbridge, vice chairman of the strategy and resources committee, said: "It is clear that with such a shortage in funding, some difficult decisions will have to be made.
"As an inevitable consequence of central Government’s funding cut, some people who haven’t previously paid council tax may find themselves being charged for it.
"At Epsom and Ewell Council, we will however look at options for protecting our most vulnerable residents."
To take part in the consultation visit www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk, where residents can view the information booklet which explains the draft scheme and complete the council tax support scheme questionnaire online.
Paper copies are available at the town hall, the Ebbisham Centre, Bourne Hall, the Longmead and Wells Centres.
The consultation will be open until October 28. Councillors will decide on the new scheme on December 11.
Reigate and Banstead Council is also running a consultation on its changes to council tax. Fill in the online questionnaire at www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk or pick up a copy from the nearest Help Shop. The consultation will run until October 23.
Mole Valley Council's consultation on the changes will open on September 7 to November 30. It is available to complete online at www.molevalley.gov.uk
Article from Hardeep Matharu at epsomguardian
Member since: 10th July 2012
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