Sefton Council Tax Reduction Scheme

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Council Tax Reduction Scheme

A budget of £150K has been approved to help residents in Sefton who struggle to pay their Council Tax.   The money was approved at last week’s Full Council meeting (January 23) when councillors agreed the local authority’s 2014/15 Council Tax Reduction Scheme and discount change for empty properties.

By law each financial year Sefton Council must consider whether to revise or replace its local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.   The existing scheme has been revised to take into account Department for Work and Pensions rate changes with the amounts and personal allowances for non-pensioner households.

This coincides with the annual uprating of state benefits for working age claimants.   The revisions to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2014/15 ensure that householders on the lowest incomes are not adversely affected by the Government’s annual uprating of state benefits.   The new changes will not affect customers who have reached their state pension age who continue to have their Council Tax Reduction calculated on rules set by the Government.

At the moment there are more than 16,552 working age residents in the borough who receive Council Tax support.   At last week’s meeting, it was also agreed to charge 100% Council Tax from April 1, 2014 on properties that have been left empty and unfurnished for more than one month.   Properties that have been left empty and unfurnished for more than 2 years will continue to be charged 150% Council Tax. The drive is to encourage empty home owners to bring properties back into use and most councils in the country now apply the charge.

Cllr Paul Tweed, Cabinet Member Corporate Services and Performance, said: “A consultation on the changes was carried out late last year and we feel the revised scheme will see us continue to help those on lower incomes.   “Money has been made available through a hardship payment fund which looks at exceptional cases where extra support may apply as well.

“But the fact of the matter is in real terms, our funding by Government has been reduced by £114m since 2010. We have also seen a cut in the amount of Council Tax support given to us this year of about £3.7m.   “However, we will always do our best to help those on lower incomes and support them where possible.”

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