Thursday, 23 January 2014

Most Vulnerable Continue To Be Protected As Council Tax Support Scheme Agreed

Councillors have confirmed the most vulnerable people in South Cambridgeshire will continue to be protected from a reduction in council tax support at a public meeting today (Thursday 23 January).

At the Council meeting of South Cambridgeshire District Council, councillors voted to endorse continuing a localised council tax support scheme to make sure people in need of help paying their council tax still receive it.

The localised scheme was introduced last year after the Government passed on the responsibility for administering it to local councils while also cutting the money provided to pay the benefit by around £1 million.

The scheme from April in South Cambridgeshire will continue to see the same amount of help given to claimants – including continued protection for pensioners, those with disabilities, their careers, as well as lone parents with children under five – which totals around three quarters of households claiming support.

To offset the reduction in money from Government, the Council removed discounts for people who own an empty or second property in the district last April. This money has been used to support vulnerable groups on low incomes.

A 50% council tax premium is now also charged on properties that remain empty for more than two years to encourage them to be brought back into use.

Over the last 12 months the number of people claiming support has also fallen, an indication that the economy locally is picking up and more people have been able to find employment or a better paid job.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “By taking away some exemptions and discounts for those with second homes we were able to manage the reduction in national funding and protect those most in need. It is really good news we have seen the number of claimants fall and by supporting businesses and helping them create more jobs we are aiming for this trend to continue. Most families continue to be able to pay their bill following a number of national benefit changes but where people are struggling we are providing additional targeted discretionary housing payments to support them in the short term. If you find yourself struggling with your finances and are in need of help please contact us early so we can see if you are eligible.”