Jan 22 2013

Harrow Council agrees Council Tax Support Scheme

harrow_council_logo2Harrow Council has agreed a new Council Tax Support Scheme after becoming one of the first authorities in the country to consult residents on a model that protects the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

The Harrow Localised Council Tax Support Scheme was agreed by Harrow Council at a meeting this week (Monday, January 21, 2013). The scheme will come into effect from April 1. The new scheme is in response to Government cuts to Council Tax Support, and has been designed by Harrow Council to limit the impact Government imposed cuts will have upon our most vulnerable residents.

Most people who receive Council Tax benefit will see a change to the amount they receive under the new scheme. However, pensioners will see no change to their entitlement and the borough’s disabled residents will still receive higher awards than those given to other working age claimants.

The Localised Council Tax Support Scheme includes:

  • A limit to the amount of Council Tax support that can be paid
  • A change in the amount of income that can be received to be eligible for Council Tax Support
  • Other adult members (non-dependents) within one household will pay more towards Council Tax

Local authorities were asked by the Government to develop their own Council Tax Support Schemes when it announced plans to reduce Council Tax benefit by ten per cent in October 2011. The changes meant Harrow Council was forced to reduce payments to current claimants by £3.8million in order to manage the cut in funding for 2013/14 and £5.1million in 2014/15.

We spoke to six thousand residents who voiced their opinions on our proposed changes to council tax benefit support during an extensive three-month consultation held in June to September last year. The Council held more than 70 face-to-face meetings and roadshows across the borough and sent questionnaires to households, libraries, supermarkets, and GP surgeries. The questionnaires gave a range of council tax support models that delivered the necessary savings in various ways. The feedback we received from the consultation was used to shape the final scheme which protects the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

Harrow Council Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Sachin Shah, said: “We were determined to shield the borough’s most financially vulnerable residents from these changes that the Government has forced us to make. I am extremely disappointed that the scheme was handed over to us by Government with such a cruel reduction.  However, we are where we are and we have limited the impact these Government imposed cuts will have upon our residents. Through our extensive three-month consultation our residents helped to shape the agreed council tax support scheme. I am so proud that residents want to protect the financially vulnerable as much as we do which is why we have agreed to this scheme.

He continued, “Supporting those in need is the cornerstone of everything that we do at this Council and it is the reason I entered politics in the first place. We will do everything in our power to secure a bright future for this borough in what can only be described as an exceptionally challenging financial climate for Local Government.”

To view the full Council Tax Support Scheme visit www.harrow.gov.uk/ctbchanges

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  1. Susan Says: Council Tax Support Scheme Impacts the Vulnerable » iharrow.com

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