Extension to tax discussion in Sleaford
RESIDENTS have been given an extra month to give feedback on proposed changes to council tax support in the district.
A year on from an initial consultation which saw changes to North Kesteven District Council's support scheme for low-income families introduced in April, further tweaks are now being considered in a bid to balance the authority's books.
Some of the proposed changes include stopping support for anyone living in a house above Band C or D, increasing the maximum entitlement of support to 90 or 92.5 per cent of the bill and including child benefits into a household's income calculation, either in full, by 50 or 75 per cent and similarly including a proportion of child maintenance in the income calculation.
National charity for single parent families', Gingerbread, has called on NKDC, together with other authorities, to drop some of the proposals however.
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In an open letter, Gingerbread's chief executive Fiona Weir, said: "Single parents in North Kesteven are at risk of losing out on vital financial support under council tax proposals from the council.
"The council is proposing to count maintenance payments for children as household income as they calculate how much help with council tax bills families need. This will mean that affected single parent families are hit with higher council tax bills, and will lose part of the value of their child's maintenance.
"We're concerned that children from single parent families are being singled out, at a time when they have already been hit hard by multiple government cuts to financial support."
Welfare reform officer for North Kesteven and Lincoln shared benefits service, Andrew Everard, said NKDC welcomed Gingerbread's representation and would consider it alongside all other responses made.
He said: "A series of proposals has been made in order to save a further £44,000 from the Council Tax Support scheme for 2014/15.
"Currently child maintenance is completely ignored in calculating entitlement. It is proposed that those who get more than £2,500 a year should have some of this taken into account so they don't get as much financial support as poorer families.
"This is anticipated to affect fewer than 100 families in North Kesteven."
The authority is encouraging everyone to give their views by responding to the consultation before the new deadline of December 1.
Details of all the options can be found online by visiting www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/ctsconsultation where there is also an online survey for people to give their views.