Residents urged to have their say over council tax support reformsPublished Tuesday, 10th October 2017
People are being urged to have their say on plans to reform Rotherham’s council tax support scheme, as the Council considers its budget options.
Since 2013, local authorities have had the freedom to set their own level of support for those of working age who receive the benefit.
The £10m Rotherham Council scheme is more extensive than most other local authorities.
Currently the maximum discount provided by Rotherham Council is 91.5 per cent of Council Tax for working age households and 100 per cent for pensioner households.
Now residents in Rotherham are being asked for their views on current scheme, as changes could save the Council millions of pounds which could be spent in other areas.
Rotherham Council Cabinet Member for Finance Cllr Saghir Alam said: “Keeping the support we currently give is just not sustainable in the long term given the current financial climate.
“The Council has to reduce its budget by £42m by 2020 and this is on top of previous budget cuts. So we have no choice but to look at everything we fund and see if there are any savings we can make.
“Any changes to council tax support will reduce budget pressures on other council services and this could make a real difference in some areas, which is why it is really important we hear people’s views before we come to any decisions.”
Since April 2013, when Council Tax Benefit was abolished, the way Rotherham Council helped people on low income to pay council tax changed.
Rotherham introduced its own Council Tax Support Scheme, which works as a council tax discount. The level of discount is based on the household income and circumstances.
However, the funding the Council now receives for Council Tax Support is no longer based on the amount of support awarded but is part of the general resources received by the Council and this funding has been severely cut in recent years.
Rotherham Council has so far managed to maintain its current Council Tax Support Scheme unchanged since 2013 whilst many other authorities have reduced the support that they offer working age claimants.
Options being considered under the consultation include reducing the amount of support offered to working age claimants. Other options include reducing support to households where there are other working age adults living with the bill payer, or reducing more quickly the amount of support as the bill payer’s income increases The scheme for pension age residents is set by Central Government and is not affected.
Following the end of the consultation a proposal will be brought back to Councillors for a final decision in the new year. Any new schemes will start on 1st April, 2018.
The consultation will run for six weeks from Monday 9 October 9 until Monday 20 November.