By Ian Dipple Thursday 29 August 2013 Updated: 30/08 10:25
THOUSANDS of residents face losing all or part of their council tax benefit under proposals to deal with the Government's welfare cuts.
Redditch Borough Council has put forward six options to plug a £650,000 funding shortfall, shared between the authority, Worcestershire County Council, fire and police. Redditch's portion totals £91,000, which was partly filled last year by measures including the decision to make people with second homes pay full council tax and a one-off grant from the Government. But about £46,000 - £325,000 overall - remains to be filled.
As the Government has insisted pensioners are protected the burden on finding the savings will fall on working age claimants.
Proposals residents are being asked to have their say on include scrapping council tax benefit for all those receiving less than £5 or £10 a week which would affect up to 2,150 people and push annual bills up by £259 and £518 respectively.
Alternatively all 4,600 residents potentially affected by the changes could be asked to pay ten per cent or 20 per cent of their council tax bill regardless of their circumstances and would be assessed for any discount on the remainder.
People living in more expensive homes could have their benefit cut to what they would receive if they were living in a Band D property while all council tax exemptions on developing properties - excluding new developments - would be ditched.
Previously councils paid out council tax benefit and reclaimed it from the Department of Work and Pensions. But welfare reforms mean the council now gets a grant, which only covers 90 per cent of the £6.5million paid out, and it is up to them to choose how to fill the remaining gap.
Coun John Fisher, responsible for corporate management on the council, said: "Harsh and drastic decisions are being forced on local authorities by the Government, again hitting ordinary people, whilst at the same time cutting taxes for the wealthiest.
"When times are tough, fairness is even more important, so Redditch Borough Council will continue to protect vulnerable residents as well as attempting to ease the blow to working age residents. We want to hear your views on how we should approach these difficult changes."
The consultation runs until October 4 and people can have their say online at www.redditchbc.gov.uk or by contacting the council on 01527 64252 or visiting the Town Hall.
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