RUTLAND County Council has opened a consultation into council tax and council tax benefits.
Central Government currently gives the council a national council tax benefit fund which supports those on low incomes with a contribution towards their council tax bill. This can cover up to 100 per cent of the cost.
From April next year, the responsibility for providing this support transfers to Rutland County Council, which will receive approximately £435,000 less funding than the Government currently provides.
The consultation will explore ways that the council can raise the money it will lose, without having too much of an effect on people who rely on council tax benefits.
It is looking into ways it can save money next year without having to raise council tax or cut benefits.
Coun Terry King (Con) said: “Our challenge is that we need to put a scheme in place to replace council tax benefit but with £435,000 less funding.
“This is clearly a very difficult and challenging scenario, but we’re currently looking at how this could work and want your views on a number of options that are available to us.
“We need to be upfront with local residents that if this £435,000 is not saved from within this project, it will have to be found from elsewhere in the council budget.
“To give residents an idea of the scale of the saving required, £435,000 works out at approximately a two per cent increase in council tax each year.”
People who currently qualify for council tax benefit include families on a combined income of less than £16,000 a year, those with a pension credit guarantee or those who live in a low income shared household.
Coun King added: “Pensioners will not be affected by these changes and other vulnerable groups may also be exempt.
“The 25 per cent single person’s discount, and the exemption for people who are severely mentally impaired and live on their own, are also not included in any changes.
“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure more vulnerable members of our community that we will do all we can to protect them.”
The consultation will run until will run until Friday, September 28, 2012, and is available online at www.rutland.gov.uk