Lowest waged in east Suffolk face paying more council tax

The lowest waged face paying more council tax. Photo: James Bass/Archant Library

The lowest waged face paying more council tax. Photo: James Bass/Archant Library

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2008

The amount of council tax people on low incomes in east Suffolk pay could be set to increase.

Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils are asking members of their public for views on the their proposals to update its council tax reduction scheme.

The two neighbouring authorities, which are in the process of merging, said while the amount of discount claimants receive could increase to take into account a rise in inflation, some people would end up paying more council tax.

That is because the revised scheme would align council tax discounts with the government’s reforms to the benefits system, namely the introduction of Universal Credit (UC).

Depending on the amount of hours a person works, their UC payment will increase or decrease.

This fluctuation means that the amount council tax is reduced by can change each month.

In order to keep this as simple as possible the east Suffolk councils want to make the award of council tax reduction conditional upon receiving UC.

The authorities say this means new claimants will only need to make one application and they will make sure the correct entitlement to council tax reduction is received.

They hope to streamline the scheme so that claimants who receive UC do not need to make a separate application to qualify for a council tax discount.

Arrangements for pensioners would not change.

Introduced by the coalition government in 2013, the scheme replaced council tax benefit and offers people on low incomes or benefit claimants reductions to their bills.

The UC application process has come under heavy scrutiny because of delays to claimants payments of up to two months.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous has spoken out in Parliament about the adverse effect this has had on constituents, many of whom have got into debt as result of having to borrow to cover living costs.

The two councils said the changes were only ‘minor’ and ‘technical’ and the scheme would continue on the same principles as the old one.

Any changes could come into effect from next April. The public can take part in a consultation exercise until November 28.

The online questionnaire is open to people who live in the two local authority areas.

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