Friday, 22 March 2013

Worried about council tax? Get your claim in for help as soon as possible

There will be many thousands of people in Cornwall who are worried about how they are going to be able to afford their council tax. Even though the Cornwall Council element of the bill has been frozen this year, it is still a lot of money to find.

Particularly hard hit are those who had previously been in receipt of council tax benefit. Until now, this means tested benefit covered up to 100% of the amount owed. Under the new rules imposed by the Conservatives and Independents, all working age households will have to pay at least 25% of their bill. That's a tax rise averaging £265 for 26,000 Cornish families.

A support scheme has been put in place to help those who feel they cannot afford this amount. Unfortunately, this scheme will only cover a maximum of half the debt. For some, this may well be enough. But for the least well off, I think this decision is very wrong. For the avoidance of doubt, the final decision to limit the support scheme was taken by Council Leader Jim Currie and not presented to full council.

If you do think you need help to cover your council tax bill, you should contact the council as soon as possible using the 'Exceptional Relief' application form on this page or you should call 0300 1234 121.

Claims will not be processed before April 1st, but all those received by that date will be processed before the reminder letters are sent out for unpaid April bills - so apply early to avoid running up any debts.

Although I still believe this is a bad scheme and the council should have retained the previous version to avoid imposing unpayable debts on the poorest, I am glad that they will be dealing with claims for help swiftly.

No comments: