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29 - Consultation on council tax reduction scheme launches

Dudley borough residents can now have their say on the council’s council tax reduction scheme (CTR) for April 2014.

The consultation, launched today (Monday July 29), asks residents if Dudley Council should make changes to its current scheme or continue with the same scheme to protect low income households.

In 2012 the government abolished the national council tax benefit scheme and replaced it with local schemes, in Dudley this is the council tax reduction (CTR) scheme.

The national changes meant a loss of around 10 per cent in government funding, approximately £2.4million in Dudley. Following public consultation the council decided to protect all low income families from any cuts in their council tax benefit.

However, Dudley like other councils face ongoing reductions in its funding and now has to decide whether to make savings by changing its CTR scheme for 2014/15 or to continue with the same scheme to once again protect low income households.

Dudley Council’s cabinet approved three options for the consultation in June this year and people are now being asked to choose from no cut at all, an 8.5 per cent cut or a 20 per cent cut in the amount of council tax reduction given by the council. A higher percentage cut in CTR means more council tax to pay.

Cabinet formally recommended 8.5 per cent as the preferred option, with some protection for vulnerable groups, but no decision will be taken before the public consultation is complete.

Pensioners must be protected from any changes to the scheme, but the consultation also asks if any other groups should be protected if the scheme is changed.

Councillor Pete Lowe, cabinet member for finance, said:

“As a result of our Big Question consultation last year and our commitment to being a community council, we remain fully committed to listening to the views of our residents.

“Last year we made the decision to fully protect residents from the government’s policy change, but local government finances continue to be under severe pressure which means we really need to ask local people what they think.

“We aim to provide the best option that reflects the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents and the needs of the council.”

The consultation can be completed at www.dudley.gov.uk/benefits/

Alternatively copies of the consultation leaflet which includes the questionnaire, will be available at Dudley Council Plus and all borough libraries.

The consultation will close on 18 October 2013 with a final decision on any new scheme for April 2014 being made later this year.

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