May 20 2013 Latest news:
by Max Walters, Reporter
Monday, June 11, 2012
Town hall chiefs will decide who is eligible for support and who isn’t
More than 24,000 residents will be directly affected when controversial changes to council tax benefits are rolled out.
Central Government are set to abolish the current Council Tax Benefit scheme and replace it by putting the power in the local authority’s hands to decide how the scheme works.
However, with a cut of more than £5m being dealt to the council, borough officials will be forced to ‘pick and choose’ between who is eligible for support and who isn’t.
The news means thousands of vulnerable residents could see a reduction in the amount of benefits they can claim.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council described the changes as ‘a huge problem’.
He said: “It’s not going to be easy; we are talking about potentially one in four residents being affected by this in the borough, which is a vast amount of people.
“It will impact on the most vulnerable but we want to make it clear that this is a scheme being implemented by central government and is something that we cannot control.”
A consultation period is due to start on Monday, June 11, where residents are encouraged to have their say.
Under the new schemes all working age claimants will be required to pay at least a contribution to their council tax even if they are claiming benefits.
David Oates, head of welfare and benefits at Brent Council said the council were aiming to protect the most vulnerable.
He said: “We have decided to try and protect the most vulnerable, pensioners and those on disability allowance will continue to have support but we are saying that those who are of working age must make a contribution to their council tax.
“Certain groups of people we are aiming to protect and those on disability allowance will still be able to claim.”
Pensioners will see no change to their allowance.
Cllr Butt, added: “These changes will affect so many residents so I urge you to take part in the consultation and have your say to ensure we end up with a scheme you feel is fair in Brent.”
The consultation period will run from Monday, June 11 to August 10 and residents are encouraged to participate.
More information can be found at www.brent.gov.uk/localcounciltaxsupport or in Brent’s libraries.