Help for Preston residents to pay council tax could change

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

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Help given to families in Preston to pay their council tax could change, as Town Hall bosses ask residents what they want.

Cuts to benefits means residents who once paid no council tax currently have to pay 20 per cent of their bill.

But leaders are now consulting with families across the city to find out if the level of Council Tax Support should change.

Letters sent to households across Preston, from cabinet member for resources Coun Martyn Rawlinson, said the council was consulting on next year’s plans. It said: “Prior to April 2013, council tax payers could apply for council tax benefit to help pay their council tax and could receive benefit of up to 100 per cent of their liability. The government then abolished the council tax benefit scheme from April 1 2013 and made local authorities responsible for setting their own council tax support scheme of working age people, while reducing the amount of funding given to councils to pay for the scheme.” Coun Rawlinson said: “It’s open to anyone to give us their views on whether we should keep the same or increase it or reduce it.

“There are options, we can return to 100 per cent support to benefit claimants but that would cost us about £150,000 a year, so we would have to find it from somewhere else.

“It would cost the county council even more than that because they get the vast majority of the council tax.

“If there’s an overwhelming response that says we must go back to 100 per cent support then cabinet would consider it, although it would be very difficult. It was probably the most difficult decision we’ve ever had to make to ask people to pay the tax who have never paid it before.”