Salford’s city mayor Ian Stewart has blasted the Government over plans to cut council tax benefits.
The Government is cutting around £3m from the funding used to support council tax benefits in the Sakford, which means the council is having to draw up proposals for a new council tax support scheme with less money.
For low wage families, and residents who are struggling to pay their council tax bills, this means there may no longer be as much support available to help them to pay their bills, or in some cases stay in work.
And city mayor Mr Stewart fears these cuts could hit home hardest at the door of the borough’s most vulnerbale residents.
He said: “These cuts could affect our most vulnerable residents and their families at a time when they are already facing hardship as a result of government cuts to their services and benefits. And all this in an economic environment that is already very difficult for our families.
“We’ve had the near impossible task of trying to come up with a scheme that will minimise the impact of the cuts on Salford residents and their families. But make no mistake, no matter what happens this could make life very difficult for a lot of our residents.
“Throughout the consultation process, and beyond, the council and I will continue to work to find a better solution to what is, at the end of the day, another example of the government taking funding away from Salford residents and their families.”
The government cuts are expected to affect around 20,000 working age residents in the city who currently receive council tax benefit. Pensioners will not be affected by the changes.
The proposed new Local Council Tax Support Scheme has five elements:
- It will no longer be possible to claim second adult rebate.
- Council tax support claims will be capped at the level available for a council tax band A property, even if the claimant’s property falls into a higher band.
- Council tax support claims will be limited to 85-90% of council tax band A property charges.
- Council tax support will only be paid if you are entitled to £1 per week or more in council tax support.
- A discretionary support scheme will be developed to support the most vulnerable residents receiving council tax support who may be experiencing extreme hardship.
A consultation on the proposed scheme will begin during September 2012, giving people the chance to have their say before a final scheme is agreed.
The City Mayor continued: “We have no choice about whether or not we have a new local scheme. The alternative, which would be to use the government’s default scheme, would be even worse. Residents must have their say on whether they agree with the proposed local scheme or give their own suggestions on how to deal with the £3m shortfall.”