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Deadline for say on benefit changes in East Lancashire
RESIDENTS of Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley have only weeks to give their views on reforming council tax benefit payments for the unemployed, sick and low paid in their boroughs.
All three local authorities are consulting before preparing new schemes which could cost the poorest households up to £300 a year.
They want claimants of the benefit and ordinary council taxpayers to give their opinion before proposals are drawn up for April 1.
The Government has scrapped the national scheme, cut every local authority’s budget for it by 10 per cent and asked for local proposals.
Blackburn with Darwen has a preferred option of imposing a 20 per cent minimum costing the poorest, who now get all or most of their council tax paid, costing them between £250 and £300 a year.
Ribble Valley is looking at absorbing much of the cuts while Hyndburn is consulting on the actual numbers.
Pensioners and some other “vulnerable” groups are protected but those expected to pay more include the low paid, and families with young children. Residents of Blackburn with Darwen and Ribble Valley have until October 31 to make their views known while those in Hyndburn have until November 4.
Ribble Valley council hopes to absorb much of 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.
Blackburn with Darwen executive board member Andy Kay said: “We want to talk to residents right across the borough about what this means, and how any new scheme will look and how it could affect people.
“This is something that will have a significant impact on the borough. Residents need to be aware of these changes and get involved in the discussions.”
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson said; “We do not have any preferred options at this stage as we cannot make any decisions until after the consultation period ends on November 4.”