TOWN Hall bosses have written to every household in Uttoxeter as they consider ways to plug a predicted £867,000 funding gap in the benefits system.
The Government is cutting the contributions it makes to council tax benefits by 10 per cent as it hands over responsibility to local authorities, which must also make up the funding shortfall.
East Staffordshire Borough Council said in a letter to residents that it hoped to protect the most vulnerable while ending 100 per cent council tax subsidies for most working age claimants.
Councillor Bernard Peters, who oversees the authority’s welfare payments, wrote that other options included restricting council tax benefits for people living in larger properties, not allowing working people to claim if they have more than £6,000 in savings, and chopping up to £10 a week off a council tax benefit claimant’s entitlement for every working, non-dependant co-habitant.
Councillor Peters said: “Local authorities currently deliver council tax benefit on the Government’s behalf. While the Government currently pays for council tax benefit, it will only give us 90 per cent of the estimated cost (after April 2013), leaving a funding gap in East Staffordshire of £867,000.” The overhaul will see the current council tax benefit system replaced with a local council tax support scheme. Authorities have been left to decide how they will make up the shortfall once the Government imposes its 10 per cent cut under the new regime.
Councillor Peters stressed: “Government rules state that there will be no changes for pensioners. This means it is very likely that most people of working age will have to pay something towards their council tax bill. How much depends on individual circumstances.
“Our priority is to agree a scheme that protects the borough’s most vulnerable residents.” East Staffordshire Borough Council is asking residents for their views at Uttoxeter Town Hall today between 9am and noon.
Further details of the authority’s proposals and consultation questionnaire are available from visiting www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk/lcts The deadline for completing consultation forms is Monday.