Council tax - worse off could have to pay more

Council tax - worse off could have to pay more

Reporter:

Francis Batt

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Council tax - worse off could have to pay more
Maidenhead Town Hall
Benefits claimants may soon have to pay nearly £20 more towards their annual Council Tax bill.

The jump will be considered on Monday by councillors on the Royal Borough's corporate services scrutiny panel.

At the moment full benefits claimants living in a band D property pay £102 towards their Council Tax - just 8.5 per cent of the full bill. But a rise to a minimum of 10 per cent being suggested by council officers would see that amount jump to £120.

Officers see this as a possible way of making up for the anticipated disappearance of an existing government grant, although they are not specifically advising councillors to accept their plan.

There were 7,660 benefits claimants in the Royal Borough at the end of September.

The relatively generous level of Council Tax reduction offered was only made possible by the government grant that is expected to be withdrawn from next April. This has left the authority with the choice of cutting services elsewhere or charging benefits claimants more.

Long-serving borough councillor Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) sees both sides of the coin as he is also the new chairman of Maidenhead Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), a role he has previously held.

The scrutiny panel member said councillors were unlikely to decide whether or not to impose the higher charge until it had been discussed at a future full cabinet meeting.

He added: "We recognise that some will face hardship and there will always be people working for the council who can advise and help them, as well as on the CAB."

He pointed out that the Royal Borough currently offered a much more generous deal to the worse off than other councils, some of which demand a 20 or 25 per cent contribution to Council Tax from people on benefits.

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