Media release - issued 07 Nov 2017

Council consults on proposed changes to council tax support and discounts schemes

Residents in Aldershot and Farnborough are being asked for their views on proposed changes to Rushmoor Borough Council's council tax support and council tax discount schemes.

The council tax support scheme, which has been in place for five years, provides help to people on a low income who need a hand paying their council tax bill. 

The council has a duty to make sure it is targeting such support where it is most needed and to balance the cost of such support against the cost of delivering key services locally, so it needs to make sure its council tax support scheme is fair to all council tax payers.

Therefore, it is considering a number of changes to the scheme that will start on 1 April 2018.

At the same time, the council is also considering if it should change the discounts it offers on homes that are left empty and unfurnished, either in the short-term or for longer if they are undergoing major repairs or structural alterations.

The council has written to all residents of working age, who receive council tax support or a council tax discount to invite them to take part in the consultation on our  page. Paper copies of the survey are also available on request.

But as all households pay council tax, and therefore any changes would affect all council tax payers, the council would also like to hear from residents who don't receive support or a discount.

Councillor Gareth Lyon, Rushmoor Borough Council's Cabinet member for Concessions and Community Support, said: "We are committed to providing a council tax support scheme that is targeted to where the need is greatest. However, we also have a duty to provide a scheme that is fair to all our council tax payers.  When we have looked at other councils' schemes, our minimum charge of 10%, or a 90% reduction in council tax, represents a much bigger reduction than other similar boroughs. These discounts mean that there is less funding available for local services provided by the county council, fire, police and ourselves. But before we look at changing our scheme, we would like to know what residents think.

"We are also taking the opportunity to consult on a couple of the discounts we offer on empty and unoccupied homes, as we really don't like seeing homes empty when families could be living in them. We want to see if we can do anything else to encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use as quickly as possible."

The closing date for the consultation is Sunday 17 December. The council's welfare reform group will consider the survey results before the Cabinet agrees recommendations to a full meeting of the council on 30 January.

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