Cash to cover new benefits

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THE council is ready to set aside £600,000 to protect the most vulnerable people when changes to Council Tax Benefit come into effect next year.

Calderdale Council currently spends £16 million a year on helping people pay their council tax, which until now has been provided by the Government.

From April, the benefit will be replaced by a Council Tax Support Scheme, which will be run locally by the council. It expects to receive about 10 per cent less to support residents who are unable to pay their council tax bills.

To protect the most vulnerable, Calderdale Council’s cabinet members have recommended that in 2013/14 – the first year of the new scheme – everyone will continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, and that £600,000 should be set aside to cover the cost.

The recommendation is subject to approval at the council meeting on November 28.

Labour leader Coun Tim Swift (Town) said: “Cuts in Government funding to help pay for Council Tax support have put us in a difficult position. If we are forced to make changes, they will particularly affect low paid working families.

“I am pleased we are able to protect these people next year, but I fear that we will have to make tough decisions while trying to make the scheme as fair as possible in the future.”

The council’s deputy leader, Coun Janet Battye (Lib-Dem, Calder) said: “Our priority is to support the most vulnerable people, who would be most affected by the changes.”

In a response to a survey, many said that the multiple changes from wider welfare reform will also be felt by working age people.