Around 1,000 residents in Bury will receive a letter this week telling them that their council tax benefit will soon be reduced.
Changes to the benefit system will effectively cut their income by an average of £149 per year, although the highest cut will be £1,497.
The Government has handed over responsibility for council tax benefit to local councils, but funded only 90 per cent of the cost of those payments. Bury, like other councils, has been working hard to draft a local scheme which aims to meet that shortfall and be fair to claimants. Pensioners will be protected from these cuts.
Some 185 people who currently receive the second adult rebate, or have savings of more than £8,000 will lose all council tax benefit entitlements. The second adult rebate is awarded when the claimant has a second adult living in his or her home that receives Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or has a low income.
A further 802 people who live in higher property bands will also be affected, as council tax benefit will be capped at the maximum equivalent of a Band B property. Most of those affected currently live in a Band C home and will lose up to £3.10 per week.
Councillor Tony Isherwood, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “In many ways, the handover of responsibility for benefits from the DWP to local councils is a poisoned chalice. In effect, we have been given ten per cent less money to pay benefits to the same number of claimants.
“There are nonsensical anomalies in the current system which need changing, such as the fact that someone could get 15p in benefit which costs more than that to process and send to them. But on the whole, the reality is that, just when times are hardest, a considerable number of people will have their benefits reduced.”