Hardship fears over council tax review

The Queen's Park estate and (below) Gwen King.
The Queen's Park estate and (below) Gwen King.
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CHANGES to council tax benefits could leave some people facing hardship, community leaders today warned.

Government funding for council tax benefit is set to be slashed by around 10 per cent in Blackpool meaning some households which are currently exempt from paying council tax will have to make a contribution in future.

Gwen King

Gwen King

Only pensioners will not be effected by the changes which come into force next April.

Currently the average annual council tax bill in Blackpool is £1,516.

Councils must implement their own system to distribute council tax benefit in future and consultation sessions will start this month.

Leader of Blackpool Council Coun Simon Blackburn said: “There are some big changes to council tax benefit next year that will directly affect a number of people in Blackpool.

“We now need to work with what we have got and provide a localised system which supports people who need this important financial help in Blackpool.

“Consultation on this programme is extremely important so when established, this support represents the community it will be helping and I encourage people to get involved.”

Consulation events in Blackpool will take place at Queens Park Community Centre on Wednesday August 29 from 4pm until 6pm.

Blackpool Town Hall on Thursday August 30 from 2pm until 4pm, and Wednesday September 5 from 6pm until 8pm.

Kilmory Community Centre in Bispham on Friday September 14 from 2pm until 4pm.

Tarnside Community Centre in Mereside on Thursday September 20 from 3pm until 6pm.

Argosy Court Community Centre at Grange Park on Wednesday October 3 from 2pm until 4pm.

Gwen King, community support worker on the Queens Park estate, urged people to attend the sessions.

She said: “We are concerned it will be the working people of this town on the minimum wage that are most affected by the proposed government cuts to council tax benefit, in some cases it may make it not worth their while going out to work.

“As a seasonal town, we need to encourage investment in jobs, proper decent jobs paying proper living wages.

“The council now needs to work with what budget they have got and deliver a localised system which supports residents who need this important financial help.”

Fylde Council is also launching consultation on the changes.

Coun Karen Buckley, Fylde Council’s finance chief, said: “Ideally, reductions will fall on the groups of people who are best able to increase their income in other ways and vulnerable groups will be protected.

“We are now looking to see if changes can be made elsewhere in the system while protecting the most vulnerable.”

To complete the survey log onto www.fylde.gov.uk before October 26.

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