Council proposes to maintain tax support

Northumberland County Council logo
Northumberland County Council logo

Northumberland County Council is proposing to increase spending on its council tax support scheme to protect vulnerable and low-paid residents.

A national 10 per cent cut in funding in 2013 to the council tax support scheme forced the authority to find new ways to maintain its support to residents on low incomes.

The scheme governs the level of financial support given to claimants on low incomes to assist them to meet their council tax obligations.

The council’s commitment is important because further national cuts to working tax credit and benefits being introduced next year will affect vulnerable residents.

If the new proposals are adopted by the authority, approximately 29,353 claimants in the county who currently or may receive council tax support will have their entitlement levels and support maintained.

Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader, said: “Health and wellbeing for residents is a priority for the council and we are committed to helping those in greatest need.

“The changes announced in the Budget 2015 will have an impact on the most vulnerable people receiving council tax support and we are determined to help them.

“We want to protect elderly and vulnerable people on benefits and low-paid and part-time workers who are working hard, but will be negatively affected by changes to tax credits.

“Our commitment to maintaining the council tax support scheme will ensure that no one is worse off and that the financially vulnerable will be able to meet their council tax liability.”

The proposed scheme is more generous to claimants than those run by most other councils who have reduced their support.

Maintaining support to the greater number of people affected by the changes to tax credit scheme will increase the cost for 2016-17 – a worst-case scenario is £1million per annum. The council will absorb these costs through its overall tax collection fund.

A report goes before the economic growth scrutiny committee next Tuesday.