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Fall in numbers in Norfolk claiming reduction on council tax bills sparks concern for pensioners

PUBLISHED: 14:33 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:52 29 August 2018

A council tax bill. The number of people claiming reducations has fallen. Picture: Denise Bradley

A council tax bill. The number of people claiming reducations has fallen. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

More than 1,600 fewer people claimed reduced council tax in Norfolk this year, compared with 2017, sparking concerns for some of the most vulnerable in the county.

Between April and June last year, there were 67,247 people in the county who were receiving some sort of council tax relief.

But new figures show that, over the same period this year, the number had fallen to 65,600 - a drop of almost 2.5pc.

People can be eligible to pay reduced council tax if they are on a low income, claim benefits or are a pensioner.

Across Norfolk, there were 1,576 fewer pensioners claiming the council tax relief, while the number of working age claimants dropped by 71.

The biggest percentage fall in Norfolk was in the North Norfolk, where there was a drop of 4pc, down from 7,717 to 7,438.

In Norwich, the decrease was 3pc, with claimants down from 15,336 to 14,930. There were also 3pc drops in South Norfolk (down from 7,265 to 7,028) and West Norfolk (a fall from 10,737 to 10,388).

Great Yarmouth saw a 2pc drop, from 11,155 to 10,925, while there were 1pc falls in Broadland (6,169 to 6,125) and Breckland (8.868 to 8,766). Waveney in Suffolk also saw a 1pc drop.

Across England, there were 3pc fewer claimants. The government stopped fully funding council tax relief in 2013.

The Local Government Association believes this could have affected people on low incomes, and is urging the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to take back control of the reduction programmes.

A spokesman said: “Council tax support schemes are no longer fully-funded by central government, with £1.7bn – nearly half of the original funding – removed between 2013 and 2020.

“As a result, more than 573,000 households no longer received council tax support in October 2017 in comparison to October 2013.

“No one wants to ask those on the lowest incomes to pay more but many councils have been put in an impossible position.

“Faced with significant cuts to the money they have to look after the elderly and disabled, protect children, repair the roads and collect the bins, many councils have had little choice but to reduce the discount.”

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