Cornwall Council has begun a period of consultation on Council Tax Benefit (CTB), which runs from 20 September to 12 November 2012.
As part of the Government's changes to the national benefits scheme, responsibility for CTB will be transferred to local authorities and Cornwall Council has to create its own Localised Council Tax Support (CTS) scheme. A new scheme will be introduced by 31 January 2013, so the Council is currently consulting on what form the scheme should take.
The Council has looked at a number of options and developed a draft proposal - called the preferred option - on which they want to hear people's views. This should give Council Tax payers the opportunity to help shape the scheme, when a report goes to Cornwall Council members at their meeting in December this year.
Unemployed would have to pay Council Tax
The Council's preferred option is that everyone of working age who receives Council tax benefit should pay at least 30% towards their council tax bill and therefore receive less council tax benefit, in order to make up for the reduction in Government grant. This would mean that even the unemployed could face a Council Tax bill of several hundred pounds a year, depending on their property band.
The Government has stated that pensioners must be protected from any reduction in council tax benefit, so the proposed changes will only affect those who are of working age.
Steve Double, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for Environment, Waste Management Policy and Shared Services said: "We appreciate that this is unwelcome news. What we have to do is find the fairest way to deal with the situation handed to us by the coalition Government which will leave a £6m black hole in the council tax benefit budget. We want as many people as possible to give us their views on how we manage a situation which is not of this Council's making."
Survey forms are currently being sent out to all people who currently receive CTB. Anyone else who would like to contribute to the consultation can do so on the consultation website.