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Council tax benefit changes could cost poorest Blackburn claimants
4:00pm Saturday 15th September 2012 in News
CHANGES to council tax benefit nationally could cost the poorest claimants in Blackburn with Darwen between £250 and £300 a year.
The borough has produced a preferred option to meet government targets of imposing a 20 per cent minimum charge on all recipients.
The poorest households in the authority area currently get all or most of their council tax paid by the borough.
Burnley and Rossendale councils have also proposed a similar figure while Hyndburn and Pendle are still consulting on the actual numbers.
However they are likely to follow suit with only Ribble Valley in East Lancashire looking at absorbing the cuts proposed by Westminster.
All six boroughs are consulting on a local scheme to replace the current national benefit in line with central Government policy.
Rossendale became the first council to publicly debate a figure last week at their cabinet meeting.
Now Blackburn and Burnley have produced a preferred option of a 20 per cent minimum payment for all claimants of working age.
Pensioners are protected but groups forced to pay more include the low paid, and families with young children.
A Blackburn with Darwen spokesman said: “The Council is proposing that the current calculation of council tax benefit should remain, however, once the calculation has been made, all working age claimants will have their award reduced by a percentage. At present it is estimated that this reduction will be about 20%.We’re consulting with residents at the moment on everything to do with the changes.”
Borough leader Kate Hollern said: “I think the proposed benefit changes are going to cause extreme hardship and make it better for many families to be out of work rather than in it. The council tax benefit changes in particular are going to hit low paid families in work extremely hard.”
Blackburn’s band C council tax bill for 2012/13 is £1,316 making a 20 per cent contribution £263 annually, £5 a week; Band D is £1480 so 20 per cent is £296, £6 a week.
Ribble Valley council are hoping to absorb the changes, possibly cutting entitlement to all other claimants by 12 per cent to keep full exemption for the poorest, or imposing a 10 per cent minimum, half that proposed for Blackburn.
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