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Consultation on new arrangements for help with Council Tax
The Welsh Government has opened a consultation on proposals to provide support for those who need help with their Council Tax bill.
The move follows the UK Government announcing plans to abolish council tax benefit and localise support for council tax. From April 2013 the provision of support for council tax will be devolved to the Welsh Government and funding will be reduced by 10 per cent.
Council Tax benefit provides crucial support for some of the most vulnerable members of our society, with around a quarter of households in Wales currently receiving help.
The Welsh Government has expressed concern at the changes and at the short timescale before they come into force.
Local Government and Communities Minister Carl Sargeant said,
“I am profoundly concerned by the UK Government’s plans to abolish council tax benefit and localise support for council tax.
“The timescale within which these changes are being forced through does not allow adequate time for us to develop a scheme that provides crucial support for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Furthermore the UK Government’s intention to cut the funding available to provide council tax support will place significant pressure on local authorities’ already stretched resources and could see some claimants being severely disadvantaged.
“This is happening against the back drop of an extremely challenging financial climate which is continuing to see more people requiring support, coupled with the implications of the UK Government’s wider welfare reform agenda the impact of which are unlikely to be fully understood until Universal Credit is implemented.
“Despite these reservations, the UK Government has made it clear that responsibility for providing support for council tax will soon be devolved to the Welsh Government. We therefore have a moral obligation to make preparations and to ensure that some of our most vulnerable people do not experience severe financial hardship.
“We take this responsibility very seriously and this consultation represents a major step in developing new arrangements and making sure that they are in place by next year.
“Local government is committed to developing a replacement scheme and we will work closely to make the best use of the knowledge and expertise that exists in Wales in relation to providing support for council tax.”