Council Tax Benefits Changes to benefits 2013
Summary: Council Tax Benefit has been abolished and replaced by localised Council Tax support schemes. This article looks at the nature of the changes.
Who is affected?
Around 3.2 million working age Council Tax Benefit claimants in England will face a reduction in the support they receive as a result of this change. Working age claimants in England and Scotland are affected; any age are affected in Wales. There is no council tax benefit in Northern Ireland.
What has happened?
The Government will provide funding to local authorities in England and to the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments to design their own systems of Council Tax support. The funding is only 90% of 2012 budget for Council Tax Benefit. This means that those in charge of designing and administering the replacement schemes will be expected to make cuts of 10%. The Scottish and Welsh governments have agreed to make up this loss, so the same level of support should be available. In England, at least 75% of local authorities will be cutting the benefit and claimants will be receiving less or no such benefit.
Small changes - big impact
Many of us are conducting a balancing act when it comes to living costs. Every pound makes a difference, and sometimes tough choices have to be made. Lenders make it sound so easy and so obvious that a loan is the answer. And of course, for some it may be. However as benefits are cut for some, income reduces and our ability to continue the balancing act becomes much harder.
What to do when the figures don't add up
Firstly we need to ensure that we are receiving the benefits we are entitled to under the new benefits arrangements. Professional help may well be necessary. Secondly we need to take a careful look at income and outgoings in order to understand where our money goes and any cutbacks that can be made. Thirdly, if we are in the position of repaying debts - we need to place these payments alongside other outgoings that are potentially more of a priority. The priorities include rent or mortgage, council tax, utility bills, food, travel costs necessary to get to work. If there is not enough left to meet debt repayments, seek professional debt advice on the options open to you.