Changes to council tax benefit to tackle Havering’s �1.9million shortfall

Havering Council could be forced to remove second homes discounts and to change its council tax benefits scheme to make up a �1.9 million budget shortfall.

At the cabinet meeting on Wednesday September 26, the committee agreed to start a public consultation on the changes to council tax benefit from October 4 to November 14 before a final decision is made.

Cabinet member for value, Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “One option is big chnages to the council tax benefit scheme and reduction scheme for empty properties and second homes and the qualification foor benefits.

“Another option is to increase in Council tax for every taxpayer or reduce the level of benefits for those who receive them.”

From April 1 next year, the Government is scrapping the Council tax benefits and replacing them with new localised Council tax support schemes.

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Every local authority including Havering Council has to set up their own local support scheme, which will helping working age people and pensioners.

The Government used to pay 100 per cent of council tax benefits, but will now only contribute 90 per cent towards the costs of these new support schemes.

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This means that instead of receiving �19m, for the benefits, Havering will only get �17.1m for the support scheme in the financial year 2013-14.

The council now has to consider a number of changes to its council tax service in order to make up this �1.9m shortfall.

To meet the shortfall, the council is proposing to remove the ten per cent discount for second homes, remove an exemption for empty or unfurnished properties and to ask working adults living with a claimant to contribute to the council tax.

The consultation period will involve speaking to residents and to partner agencies.

Cllr Ramsey said: “We want to find out what our resident think about our proposals before we make any decisions, so I hope that many people will respond to our consultation.”

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