Mon, 10 Oct 2016
WEST Berkshire Council is looking to reduce the amount of council tax support it gives to some of the district’s most vulnerable people, despite putting council tax up by four per cent in April.
Currently, 6,709 people in the district claim some form of council tax support, costing the council £6.4m a year.
It is trying to reduce that cost as part of its ongoing plan to find millions of pounds of savings.
Low earners, the unemployed and those with a disability are among the groups that could end up paying more than they currently do under the new proposals.
The council is exploring 16 options in total as it continues looking at ways to save money in the coming years.
One option is to reduce the amount of council tax support to those with savings.
Currently, some people with savings of £16,000 or less are entitled to support towards their council tax bills, but that could be about to change.
The council is considering capping it so people with savings of £6,000 or more would no longer be entitled to any assistance.
Another option is to increase the minimum contribution that working-age claimants have to pay towards their council tax by five per cent, from 25 per cent to 30 per cent.
The council is asking people how they’ll be affected by the proposed changes and are inviting them to leave their comments via public consultation, which started last week.
It is also looking at removing council tax support for those living in Band D properties.
Any changes are likely to affect hundreds of households across the district and come into effect from April 2017.
The chief executive of West Berkshire Citizens Advice Bureau, Jan Rothwell, said: “We are looking at the consultation and obviously have concerns for the most vulnerable people who will be affected.
“It will undoubtedly have an impact, particularly for those people who are working on low incomes.”
In its assessment of the impact the changes would have, the council admits: “A reduction in the level of support to those on low incomes will inevitably place a financial burden on those affected and will force them to make choices not previously faced.”