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New Council Tax Benefit Scheme agreed

Published Friday, 01 February 2013

A new local Council Tax Support scheme for Enfield was voted through at Wednesday night's Council meeting.

The local scheme will replace the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme when it is abolished by the Government from 1 April 2013.

In the face of a £4 million funding shortfall from central Government, Enfield Council voted for a scheme which requires working age claimants of Council Tax Benefit to make a contribution to their Council Tax, but ensures that they will still receive over 80% of their existing benefits. Pensioners and war widowers are fully protected and will pay no increase.

Cllr Andrew Stafford, Cabinet Member for Finance said " Enfield has been hit particularly hard by the reduction in Government funding for council tax benefits. In the context of £60m savings the Council has already delivered in the last three years and with the prospect of more to come, we could not absorb this cut without affecting critical services. 

"As a result the Council had to make a very difficult decision about who gets financial support and by how much.  Having considered all of the options, the consultation results and the equality impact assessment, I believe the Council has chosen the fairest option.  All working age claimants will still receive over 80% of their existing council tax benefits and on average the reductions represent less that 15% of people's council tax charge. In the consultation, this was the option favoured by those residents most affected.

"Enfield Council has also created a hardship fund to provide relief for those facing extreme hardship and relaxed payment arrangements to enable benefit claimants to pay by weekly direct debits."

In order to reduce the impact on working age claimants, Enfield Council also agreed changes to the empty and second home discounts. 

The Government's offer of transitional money for one year was tied to an option which would have left the Council with a funding shortfall of £800,000 in 2013/14 rising to £1.5m in 2014/15.  Cllr Stafford said: "With further government savings likely to come I believe it would have been unwise to choose an option that puts our front line services at even greater risk."

Enfield Council will be writing to all those affected in February.


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