Decision due over tax benefit change

Scarborough Town Hall, St Thomas Street. 'A Town Team public meeting in the Royal Hotel ballroom, full to standing room only, was held about the future of the Town Hall, which Scarborough Council have proposed to sell off and move out. Picture by Andrew Higgins   121831h  02/05/12
Scarborough Town Hall, St Thomas Street. 'A Town Team public meeting in the Royal Hotel ballroom, full to standing room only, was held about the future of the Town Hall, which Scarborough Council have proposed to sell off and move out. Picture by Andrew Higgins 121831h 02/05/12

Major changes are being proposed to council tax benefits and exceptions in a move that will see empty dwellings pay full price for tax if approved.

Scarborough Council’s cabinet will meet on Tuesday to discuss proposals for the authority’s new Local Support for Council Tax scheme.

The scheme will replace the current Council Tax Benefit system which was abolished by government in March this year, leaving local council’s tasked with setting their own support services.

The proposed Local Support for Council Tax scheme, will only affect working age council tax payers on benefits as those of pension age are fully protected at current levels of Council Tax Benefit.

Outlined in the scheme is plans for those in receipt of the current council tax benefits, which is means tested, to now pay a maximum of 8.5 per cent of their council tax.

To help cope with a shortfall in funding from the Government, councillors sitting in cabinet are being recommended to also approve changes to council tax exemptions. The include:

- Reducing 12 months 100% exemption to zero exemption for Class A properties (empty dwellings requiring structural alteration/major repair)

- Replacing the current 100% six month exemption with 0% discount for Class C properties (empty and unfurnished). Then following two years continually vacant increasing the charge to 150%

- or for Class C replace the current 100% six month exception with 10% discount for the first 28 days, followed by 0% discount. Following two years continually vacant increase charge to 150%

- Reduce discount from 10% to 0% for second homes.

David Ponton-Brown, revenues and benefits manager at Scarborough Council, who wrote the report for cabinet to consider, said: “Due to the cash limitations it is inevitable that some working age people will be financially disadvantaged unless a decision is taken to bridge the gap between the expected Government grant and the current award levels.

“This would impact on all council tax payers by increasing the council tax levied and or cut other council services.”

The council needs to have an approved scheme by January 31.