Chichester District Council tax exemptions axed

THE ‘MOST vulnerable’ will be protected from government cuts, following changes to council tax benefit.

More than 3,000 pensioners who claim council tax benefit and live in the Chichester District will be protected from any benefit changes.

At a full meeting of Chichester District Council on Tuesday, members supported plans to introduce a council tax support scheme to help people pay their council tax. This decision follows government plans to axe council tax benefit.

Funding for the scheme will, however, be cut by ten per cent, which amounts to a reduction of around £70,000 for the council.

To cover the reduction in funding, the council voted to remove council tax discounts and exemptions for those with second homes or empty properties.

Cllr Tony Dignum, cabinet member for finance, said: “I am happy to report that we are recommending that no general reduction is made in the benefit for our 4,200 recipients of working age.

“In August, we asked our residents how they felt we should cover the reduction in funding.

“Following the consultation on council tax support, most people thought that the best way to deal with the loss of funding is to remove council tax discount and exemptions from those who own a second home or empty property.

“This will help us to cover the ten per cent that we need to find, while protecting the most vulnerable.”

In a supporting document, the council outlined that for the first year of the scheme, ‘no existing council tax benefit claimant will be worse off as a result of these rules’.