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‘Horrendous’ plight of £4m funding gap
Senior Bradford councillors yesterday discussed the implications of Government plans to reduce support for Council Tax benefit as part of reforms which will see local authorities taking on responsibility for the benefit.
Under the new arrangements the Government will provide the Council with ten per cent less – which equates to around £4 million – although pensioners will be protected, leaving the real level of cuts on an individual expected to be around 15 per cent.
The Council then has to decide whether to find the extra cash from its finances to plug the funding gap, pass the reduction on to those receiving the benefit in full, or to phase in any reductions over a number of years.
At yesterday’s Bradford Council executive meeting, members indicated they would look to pass on the cuts to those benefit recipients of working-age, but that they also wanted to look at options as to whether other vulnerable groups could be protected.
The moves will now go out to consultation with other precepting organisations and a draft scheme will be reported back to the executive.
Given that the new system of support will begin from April 2013, the item has been banned from any call-in to allow the consultation to take place in time.
Councillor David Green, leader of the Council, said: “This has been perhaps the hardest decision facing me since I became leader. It’s horrendous and the implications of any decision we make on this are going to affect thousands of people in the district.”
“It’s hypocritical of the Government to decide to make a cut in Council Tax benefit and then pass it on to local authorities to introduce it.”
An estimated 33,000 households in the district may be affected by the changes.