Many face cuts to council tax benefit under support scheme

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Almost half the people in Craven who receive council tax benefit will lose their full entitlement under a new scheme.

Craven councillors have approved a new council tax support scheme which will be introduced from April 1 next year.

Under the current system, people on Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support or Employment Support Allowance do not pay council tax. But the new scheme means all working-age claimants will pay a minimum of 8.5 per cent of their council tax charge.

The new system will also see Second Adult Rebate abolished and entitlement to backdated council tax support removed except under exceptional circumstances.

Councillors have also agreed 
to changes in the way second homes are charged and certain exemptions are awarded, from April 1 2013. The 10 per cent discount on second homes is to be scrapped.

The Class A exemption for properties that require or are undergoing major repair/structural alteration is to be abolished and properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished will receive a maximum three months’ exemption instead of the current six.

Craven Council Leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton said: “It is important that residents understand that the changes have been confirmed for 2013/14 only.

“We do not yet know what the future will bring, but we will ensure that we monitor and review the impact of the changes in order that we always have the fairest and most appropriate council tax support scheme possible.”

The local council tax reduction scheme is being introduced as a result of the Government’s decision to scrap council tax benefit from April 2013.

The new scheme applies to claimants of working age only. Pensioners remain fully protected from any changes and everyone in receipt of War Disablement Pension/War Widows’ Pension and Armed Forces’ Compensation will retain their additional help under Craven’s local scheme.