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Consultation on Council Tax Support Scheme to begin

Published Monday, 03 November 2014

Enfield Council has launched a consultation so residents can comment on next year’s Council Tax Support Scheme and the discounts and exemptions on offer.

As part of the Government’s welfare reforms, the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme was abolished in April 2013 and councils were charged with introducing local versions. In 2012, Enfield Council consulted widely on introducing its own support scheme to provide financial support to Enfield residents on low incomes. Changes were also made to empty and second home discounts.

The resulting scheme has been in place since April 2013, but was changed in 2014/15 and amended following a further consultation to include extra protected groups.

At present, the Council is not proposing to change the scheme for next year, however we are required to consult on the scheme every year and is now seeking residents views. Depending on the responses received the Council may decide to change the proposed scheme.

The consultation, which ends at 5pm on Friday 28 November, can be found on the Council’s website or in libraries and other reception areas.

The details of the scheme, current exemptions and discounts and the results of last year’s consultation are also available on Enfield Council’s website.

This year residents will be asked:

1) Should all people of working age have to pay something towards their council tax irrespective of their earnings?

2) Pensioners, war widows, foster carers, people in receipt of carers allowance and higher rate disability benefits receive 100% council tax support. Should any other groups be awarded this full amount?

3. In order to qualify for Council Tax Support, people must have less than £16,000 in savings. Should this be reduced?

4. This year, the Government has reduced the Council’s funding by a further 20%. Should we protect council tax support recipients from having to pay more or pass on this reduction and ask working age recipients of council tax support to pay a bigger contribution? (Enfield Council has frozen council tax for the last four years.)

5. Are there any changes you would want to see to the discounts for empty or second homes?

6. The Council has introduced an empty homes premium where the owner of a property left empty for more than two years has to pay 150% of council tax. Should the Council amend this premium to exclude those actively seeking to sell the property?

Cllr Andrew Stafford, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance said: “When the Government abolished the national Council Tax Hardship Benefit Scheme, (which helped people in extreme circumstances) they also reduced the money available to pay for it leaving Enfield Council with a £5m shortfall in funding.

“We want to strike a balance between providing an affordable scheme and giving those in most need some financial support.

“We are proposing to keep the scheme the same for next year, however we want to know what local people think and whether we should consider making changes. Please take the time to complete the survey which is accompanied by an information sheet to give further information on the scheme.”

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