Households receiving benefit will not be penalised
A new Council Tax Support Scheme being introduced in Merton will mean the council will not be raising Council Tax in 2013-14 for 14,000 households in the borough.
The scheme is to benefit households who are currently receiving financial support, and comes into effect on April 1 until March 31 2014. It will be reviewed during 2014-15.
Merton is implementing the new scheme because of Government plans for councils to develop and administer their own local Council Tax support schemes from 2013-14.
The Government has cut the amount of funding it will give to local authorities for Council Tax support by 10% from April 1 and by a further 10% from April 2014. This will result in Merton losing approximately £1.4-1.47 million during 2013-14 and £1.2m in 2014-15.
Following the Government's decision to remove the national Council Tax Benefit scheme, the council consulted with residents last year about a new Council Tax scheme. It proposed a new Council Tax Support Scheme that keeps support at the same level as the existing scheme.
It received 1,007 responses, withthe vast majority wanting Council Tax support in 2013-14 to remain unchanged. Councillors shared this view, voting for a local scheme that keeps Council Tax support the same as in previous years.
Merton Council's cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: "We are committed to helping those residents who already receive Council Tax Benefit for the next financial year, unless their circumstances change.
!At a time when many people are facing financial difficulties, we did not think it was right to cut financial support and put up tax for lower income households. Making them pay more tax would have a significant and detrimental impact on their families.
"We want to keep Council Tax low for everyone, and have frozen Council Tax for two years, and this new scheme will mean no Council Tax rise for the 14,000 Merton households who sadly need financial assistance."
February 1, 2013