Harrow Borough Council approves plan to cut £3.8 million of Council Tax Benefit

Harrow Borough Council has agreed a new Council Tax Support Scheme which will see Council Tax Support claimants lose £3.8 million in the next year.

At a council meeting last night the Harrow Localised Council Tax Support Scheme was approved.

The scheme, which will come into effect on April 1, is a response to the government’s cuts to Council Tax Support.

Under the new scheme everyone of working age will have to pay at least 22.5 per cent of their council tax bill.

People with disabilities, or with a dependant with a disability, will have to pay at least ten per cent of their council tax.

If you have more money coming in than the government says you need to live on, your council tax benefit will be reduced – for every extra pound you receive your benefit will be cut by 30p.

Other adults living in a household where the council tax payer claims Council Tax Support will have to pay double the amount they currently pay towards council tax.

However, those who receive Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers’ Allowance or Guaranteed Pension will continue to pay £3.30 a week.

If you currently receive less than £2 Council Tax Support a week the benefit will be stopped altogether.

The scheme has been introduced because local authorities were asked by the government to develop their own Support Schemes and for Harrow this meant having to cut Council Tax Support by £3.8 million.

Before the scheme was agreed the council spoke to 6,000 residents about the proposals.

There were also 70 face-to-face meetings and road shows were set up to give people the opportunity to express their opinions.

The information gleaned from this consultation was used to help shape the new scheme.

Harrow Council portfolio holder for finance, Councillor 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.

“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.”

Independent councillor, Husain Akhtar, who supported the Council Tax Support Scheme said: “Realistically, in view of the council’s low cash reserves and to protect services for most vulnerable, cuts in Council Tax Support are needed to fund the gap.”

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

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