Chichester residents consulted on changes to tax benefit

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PEOPLE throughout the Chichester area are to be consulted on changes to council tax benefit which could affect them and their families.

New government rules mean that from April 2013, council tax benefit will be abolished and replaced by local support to help people to pay the tax. The district council has been told it will receive about ten per cent less than its current funding – a reduction of around £750,000.

The government was reducing the funding it provided to the council and so it was consulting on a number of ways this could be dealt with, such as reducing the amount of benefit people receive, making some people pay a little extra towards their council tax and changing the exemptions and level of discount on second homes, empty properties and those buildings undergoing repairs.

This would be used to help pensioners, the vulnerable and low-income households to pay their council tax. The government had indicated pensioners would be protected from any benefit changes.

The consultation will be achieved through two surveys. One focuses on the support given to those who currently receive council tax benefit, the other looks at the level of discounts and exemptions that are currently given to some empty properties and second homes.

The surveys must be completed by September 14, with the council making a decision on the final structure of the new system later this year.

They could be found from tomorrow at www.chichester.gov.uk/consultations or a hard copy could be requested by calling 01243 534623. Council staff would be available to assist those who would like help completing the surveys.