Council tax hike to hit families

Reduced funding - Lord Smith
Reduced funding - Lord Smith

AROUND 15,000 families across the borough face council tax rises because most councils in England will pass on a 10 per cent benefit funding cut, research suggests.

From April the Government is abolishing the national Council Tax Benefit scheme and giving the council 10-15 per cent less money to spend on helping low income households pay their Council Tax.

Wigan Council says it has yet to finalise the exact amount they will be forced to pass on to council tax payers, but have confirmed that working households earning over £12,000 a year will be affected.

A spokesman for Wigan Council said: “Our new local council tax reduction scheme will only apply to households of working age who do not have children under five.

“Most of these households will receive 20 per cent less support through the new scheme. Some of these households will lose all support.”

However, the council did confirm that working age families with children under five should be protected from any changes – along with pensioners.

Although Wigan Council forecast an average 2.6 per cent increase (including the precept) in council tax, the budget will not be rubber stamped until it is discussed in early March.

The council say they will do all they can to help keep the costs as low as possible for residents.

Leader of Wigan Council, Lord Smith, said: “The welfare reform changes being set by the coalition government are out of our control. With reduced funding we are faced with tough decisions. We recognise the need to develop our own council tax benefit scheme which will work for Wigan people. I feel the proposed scheme is a better option than making further cuts. The reality is that for some households this will mean paying some Council Tax when under the current scheme they didn’t have to pay any.”

A typical bill will rise from April by between £100 and £250 a year, but some could rise as much as £600, the Resolution Foundation think tank says.

Its report coincides with the deadline for local authorities to submit their plans for changing council tax benefit

Government ministers say the total paid out in council tax benefit doubled under the last government and welfare “reform” is vital to tackle the budget deficit.

But the Resolution Foundation, a not-for-profit research and policy organisation which says its goal is to improve outcomes for people on low and modest incomes, says that three-quarters of authorities in England are planning to demand a higher payment from the lowest income households.