PEOPLE living in East Lindsey are being asked for their views on proposed changes to Council Tax Benefit.
East Lindsey District Council needs to make changes to the current Council Tax Benefit system as a result of the Government's Welfare Reform Bill.
If the council doesn't introduce a new scheme by January 31, 2013, a national scheme is implemented by default.
Under current arrangements, the Government meets the cost of Council Tax Benefit expenditure. For ELDC, this is currently in the region of £12.1m per year but in 2013/14 this funding will reduce by around 10 per cent.
Around 16,000 people in East Lindsey currently receive Council Tax Benefit – some 9,000 are pensioners and Council Tax Support will be protected for these individuals.
Councillor John Upsall, portfolio holder for finance at ELDC, said: "We have been through a tough and rigorous process in considering options to address the issue of a 10 per cent reduction in funding and have developed a proposal that protects the most vulnerable people in the community and doesn't require us to reduce services or impose a significant increase in Council Tax.
"By implementing the changes we're outlining in the consultation paper, we also hope to bring more empty homes back into use for the benefit of the community.
"I'd encourage local people to respond to this consultation exercise and make their views known on the proposal we're making so we can take an informed decision on the final scheme to implement."
The scheme ELDC is asking the community for views is that:
Entitlement for working age claimants would continue to be calculated based on similar means tested rules to the current Council Tax Benefit scheme. However, under the new scheme, 75 per cent of the resulting entitlement would be applied to the Council Tax account.
Owners of homes which are vacant but have major repair works or structural works under way will receive a 25 per cent Council Tax discount for the whole period, up to 12 months.
Owners of vacant, unoccupied and substantially unfurnished homes will receive a 100 per cent discount for one month, then a zero per cent discount for the remaining period up to six months.
Owners of homes that are vacant for six months or more will pay 100 per cent Council Tax on the empty home.
Owners of homes that are left empty or unoccupied for more than two years will be required to pay 150 per cent Council Tax.
To complete the consultation visit www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/consultation or visit your local East Lindsey District Council Customer Service Centre. The consultation ends on November 19, 2012.