Low wage earners face benefit squeeze

NORTH Somerset residents on low incomes could be financially squeezed again after the government announced it is cutting funding for council tax benefits.

North Somerset Council is asking residents how it can make up a cash shortfall after ministers decided to pull the plug on full funding for it from April next year.

Currently the authority gives those on low incomes a reduction on their bills, based on a means-tested assessment but that could all change when the government slashes what it gives the council by 10-15 per cent.

Pensioners will not be affected by the change and council officers are proposing a scheme aimed at protecting vulnerable groups of working people.

One suggestion put forward is that the council matches the government grant but a potential shortfall of �2million would have to be met by more services being cut or a rise in council tax.


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Other proposals include amending the current scheme but keeping existing protection for vulnerable groups.

The council’s executive member for finance, Cllr Tony Lake said it was ‘very important’ that people let them know what they think of the proposals.

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He said: “The shortage in funding means we have to make some difficult decisions about who gets financial assistance and how much.

“These changes will affect so many residents that I urge you to take part in the consultation and have your say.”

The consultation can be found online at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/ctaxben with responses needed by October 20.

Anyone wanting information in a different format can contact customer services client manager, Jo Buchan, by emailing jo.buchan@n-somerset.gov.uk or by calling her on 01275 885116.

A report which will be compiled following the consultation will be discussed at a full council meeting on November 15.

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