Council tax benefits cut for thousands
AN anticipated 10 per cent cut in the funding received from Government to support local people through council tax benefits led to "hard decisions" being taken by Boston borough councillors.
A Government ruling means that from April 1, all those in receipt of support should have their benefit capped at 75 per cent.
The decision followed a consultation period during which more than 3,000 borough residents received letters.
The council also explored a range of potential solutions to meet the objectives.
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The Government currently gives Boston Borough Council £4.7 million per year to support local people through council tax benefits. In 2013/14 this funding will reduce by around ten per cent.
Currently, around 6,400 people in the borough receive council tax benefits – 3,200 are pensioners and are protected.
Councillor Raymond Singleton-McGuire, portfolio holder for finance, told a meeting of the full council that demographics for councils were different so there was no fits-all solution.
He said the cuts in benefit would be a contribution to reduce the plight of the UK economy and the Government wanted to encourage more people back into work.
The council also approved changes to council tax discounts and exemptions to help bring empty properties back into use.
The 100 per cent discount for 12 months for unfurnished properties undergoing structural work will be reduced to a 25 per cent discount.
The 100 per cent discount for six months for unoccupied and unfurnished properties will be reduced to one month.
The 50 per cent discount for substantially unfurnished homes empty for more than six months will be abolished.
A 150 per cent charge will be introduced for properties left unoccupied for more than two years, subject to certain conditions being met.