From April 2013 we will be given a fixed budget by the Government for providing council tax support - this means that we cannot claim back all of the money that we currently spend on council tax benefit. The fixed budget will be at least ten per cent less than what we pay out now. Based on our current levels of spending and future forecasts, this means we have to save approximately £640,000 in 2013/14. The amount that we need to save is likely to go up in future years if council tax bills increase or if more people claim benefit.
We are consulting with you on what our council tax support should look like for 2013/14. Our scheme should:-
What is council tax?
Council tax is a local tax used to fund council services. It is collected by Rugby Borough Council but is shared between us, Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police Authority and parish councils, to provide a full range of services - from refuse collection to social services and schools.
Council tax is based on the valuation band that your property is in. There are eight valuation bands from A-H.
What is council tax benefit?
Currently householders who have a low amount of income pay a reduced or in some cases no council tax through council tax benefit.
Council tax benefit is a means tested benefit that is worked out using national regulations. We claim 100 per cent of the money we pay out for council tax benefit from the government.
We paid out over £6 million in benefit last year to people living in the Rugby area.
Who will be affected?
The Government has stated that all pension age claimants will be protected from the changes and that no pensioners can be worse off as a result. The Government will be issuing national regulations which will tell us how we should calculate local council tax support for pensioners.
This means that only working age claimants will be affected by the changes. We have considered keeping the existing rules and regulations for council tax benefit and the implications this would have for other services as we, along with Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police Authority would have to find the savings elsewhere to fund the shortfall.
We have also considered funding the shortfall by reviewing the current council tax discounts and exemptions awarded to vacant properties within the borough; this includes long term empty homes and second homes. Although this will raise approximately £200,000 it will not offset all the savings that will be required.
Our proposals will mean that all working age claimants who currently receive council tax benefit will be affected and will have to pay more towards their council tax from April 2013 even if they have never had to pay before.
How you can get involved
To help us design our final scheme we would like to hear your views on our proposals. The consultation will run from 21 August 2012 to 15 October 2012. This timescale has been agreed (guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 17 May 2012) to allow us time to effectively evaluate the responses we receive and to meet the council's budget setting timetable.
Tell us what you think of our proposals
Please take a moment to complete the questions below. All information will be treated in confidence and will only be used by Rugby Borough Council for the purposes of evaluating and implementing a council tax support scheme.
Please remember that the proposals will only affect customers of working age. If you are a pensioner these changes will not affect you.
We would like to hear from as many residents, organisations and voluntary groups as possible during the consultation period.
The consultation will run from 21 August 2012 to 15 October 2012.
For further information, please contact the Communications team on 01788 533864, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How your views will be taken into account
Once the consultation is complete, all responses will be reviewed by a group of councillors. They will help to ensure that your feedback is taken into account.
A report will then be presented to the council's Cabinet meeting in November. This will include the views we have collected and detail how they have been taken into account when making the final version of the scheme. The final decision on the new scheme will be made by the council at its meeting in December.
Pages in Council tax support consultation
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