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Consultation launched on council tax reductions

Published on Thursday, August 4, 2016

LEICESTER residents are being asked to share their views on the amount of money people should pay towards their council tax bills.

Since 2013, all people of working age – including those on benefits or a low income – have had to pay at least 20 per cent of the cost of their council tax bills (£213 for a band A property in 2016).

This is because the Government cut the funding it provided for council tax benefit. Instead, councils were required to set up their own ‘council tax reduction’ schemes.

Now, the Government is making further cuts to the funding it provides for council services, including council tax reduction schemes. This means the city council has to make difficult choices about how it funds services in the future.

As a result, the council is consulting people on various options for funding its council tax reduction scheme in the next few years. People are being asked whether residents on a low income should continue to pay a minimum of 20 per cent towards their council tax bills, as they do at present, or whether they should pay 25 or 30 per cent towards their council tax bills in the future.

If no changes are made to the current scheme, this could lead to more cuts to services elsewhere in the council.

The options being considered do not affect pensioners, and the city council would continue to keep discretionary funding available to help the most vulnerable taxpayers.

Cllr Sue Waddington, assistant city mayor with responsibility for council tax, said: “When Leicester City Council set its budget in February, the council estimated it would need to make savings of £55million a year by 2019/20, on top of the savings it has already had to make.

“We’re already considering how we can make savings in a range of services and do things more efficiently, but this alone is unlikely to save enough money.

“That’s why we’re having to consider a range of alternatives, and as part of this we have launched a consultation to gather people’s opinions on options for the council tax reduction scheme.

“No decisions have yet been made, so it’s really important that people give us their views and have their say by taking part in this consultation.”

The consultation runs from 4 August until 28 September, and is available online at consultations.leicester.gov.uk

People are also invited to join consultation events, details of which can be found on the website above.

Printed copies of the consultation questionnaire will also be available in libraries and customer service centres.

Responses will be evaluated by the end of 2016 and councillors are expected to make a final decision on the options at a meeting in early 2017.

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