Torbay council force poorest to pay council tax

Torbay residents of working age who currently receive Council Tax Benefit will have to pay at least 25 percent of their council tax from April 1.

Currently some residents across the Bay qualify for Council Tax Benefit which means that a proportion, or in some cases 100 percent, of their council tax is paid for. From 1 April the Government is stopping Council Tax Benefit and has asked local authorities to create their own local scheme. At the same time the Government will also be reducing the amount of money paid to councils to support the scheme.

Following "extensive consultation with local groups and residents", Torbay Council has now agreed the detail of the new Council Tax Support scheme that will be introduced in the Bay on  April 1.

Under the new scheme pensioners have been protected by law so they will not be affected by any of the changes. However, anyone of working age and who is currently in receipt of Council Tax Benefit will see the following changes:

* Everyone will have to pay at least 25 percent of their Council Tax.

* Second Adult Rebate will no longer exist and those in receipt of the rebate will have to pay all of their Council Tax.

* Any household with savings or capital of over £6,000 will not be entitled to Council Tax Support.

The Mayor of Torbay, Gordon Oliver, said: "The changes taking effect in April, which include less money coming to us from the Government to support the system, mean that councils have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial help and how much they will get.

"We know these changes will cause some concerns and worry for people, and we are working closely with local support groups to offer financial budgeting and money management advice. We also have a very limited fund to help people suffering severe financial hardship as a result of this change.

"The situation will vary from one area to another, because the funds will be different and the number of pensioners who must be taken care of first will also vary from one location to another. Councils with a higher proportion of pensioners claiming Council Tax Benefit will see a smaller pot of money to be divided up amongst the working age benefit customers.

"I would urge people not to put their heads in the sand but to contact us at council.tax.support@torbay.gov.uk or telephone 01803 207201 as soon as possible to help them budget for the upcoming changes.

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