- Thursday, 27 September 2012 15:32
Derbyshire Dales District Council has launched a local consultation programme following the Government's decision to abolish the national Council Tax Benefit scheme from 1 April next year as part of its welfare reform programme.
The national scheme will be replaced by local Council Tax Support schemes - but the Government is cutting its funding for Council Tax Support by 10%, leaving a funding gap in the Derbyshire Dales of around £400,000.
Now the District Council is inviting local people to have their say on proposed changes that could see working age claimants get a reduction in their level of support from next year. Pensioners however will be protected, whatever system is adopted in the Dales.
Feedback is welcome online. Paper feedback forms can also be requested from the District Council and partner agencies, and the issue of Council Tax Benefits will headline a series of area community forums in Ashbourne, Bakewell and Darley Dale in October. Drop-in information sessions will also take place in Wirksworth, Tideswell and Matlock.
Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said:
"The Government has given us no choice but to make changes that will affect local people. We have worked hard to develop a draft scheme that balances the need for savings with maintaining protection for vulnerable households.
"No matter what system is used for calculating Council Tax Benefit, pensioners will be protected. Only working age claimants will be affected. One of the ways we are proposing to limit the reduction in benefit for working age claimants to 10% is by changing to the amount of Council Tax we charge for second homes and empty properties. Without this change the benefit reduction for working age claimants would be 24%.
"That's just one of the ideas on the table and now we need the views of Derbyshire Dales residents and organisations to help shape our final scheme.
"Consultation on our proposals runs until 21 November and our consultation timetable fits with our budget setting process and Government guidance.
"The consultation is open to everyone who lives in the Derbyshire Dales, not only people whose benefit could be reduced. We are also consulting local organisations such as welfare and support agencies."
The District Council's proposes from 1 April 2013 that:
- eligibility for support is based on existing Council Tax Benefit arrangements
- existing Council Tax Benefit rules are used for calculating Council Tax Support, helping to protect the most vulnerable, but that the final award for all working age claimants is reduced by a fixed percentage – we propose a 10% reduction
- as required by Government, pensioners are protected from any changes
- we extend payments for people starting work from 4 to 8 weeks
- we continue to protect working age war pensioners by ignoring income from War Widows, War Widowers and War Disablement pensions when calculating support
- we consider the need for extra help for those most affected by the changes
- people claiming Council Tax Benefit are moved over to the new scheme automatically and not asked to make a new claim
- all the other rules stay the same.
The full draft scheme is available to view online
Paper copies of the questionnaire, with freepost envelope, are available from the Town Hall in Matlock, Bakewell Agricultural Business Centre, Ashbourne Leisure Centre and Wirksworth Leisure Centre or from Dales Housing, Citizens' Advice Bureau, Derbyshire Dales CVS, Rural Action Derbyshire, Matlock Job Centre and Dales libraries.
Hear more at the District Council's area community forums. All start at 7pm and they happen on 8 October at Ashbourne Leisure Centre, 16 October at Bakewell Agricultural Business Centre and 30 October at the Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale.
The drop-in sessions take place on Monday 22 October 5pm - 7pm at Country Kitchen Restaurant, Waltham House, St John Street, Wirksworth; Tuesday 23 October 5pm - 7pm at Tideswell Methodist Church, Fountain Square, Tideswell; Wednesday 24 October 5pm - 7pm at St Joseph's Community Hall, Bank Road, Matlock.
For more information, Dales residents can also email, call 01629 761260 or 01629 761271, write to: Revenues Section, Derbyshire Dales District Council, Town Hall, Matlock DE4 3NN, or contact the District Council using Facebook and Twitter.