More to pay council taxes

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News

All working age households in Luton will pay some council tax from 1 April 2016.

The decision comes after a consultation by Luton Borough Council found 64% of those taking part thought everyone of working age should pay something and households with a disabled person should be a priority for assistance.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday councillors agreed a 75% maximum level of support. Pensioners and households on a low income where there is someone with a disability will continue to receive a 100% reduction.

Portfolio Holder for finance, Cllr Andy Malcolm, said: “The borough is facing cuts in government grants of approximately £28 million up to the end of this parliament but it has been a tough decision to reduce the support we introduced in 2013 after the government scrapped council tax benefit.”

Around 10,000 Luton households that have been protected so far will start paying a share of their council tax from 1 April.

Luton Council is also setting up a new exceptional hardship fund from April to support the most financially vulnerable households towards paying their council tax bill in the short term. This support will also be linked to advice and guidance to help people manage their budgets better.

Those struggling as a result of reduced financial support with council tax can get advice and guidance through Luton Access, a new service to provide specific help and advice at an early stage to solve problems before they reach crisis level.

From February 1 this service will be available at ‘Community House’ in 15 New Bedford Road in the town centre, and includes the Citizens Advice Bureau, Luton Law Centre and Luton Rights. Residents are also referred to this service via the Council’s customer service centre

Luton Council has saved £86 million over the last five years, with minimal impact on front-line services, but it still has to make further savings in order to cover the reduction in government grants of approximately £28 million up to the end of the current parliament.

Cllr Malcolm said:“Many people in Luton are going to have to think hard about managing money. Through Luton Access, the Council and its partners will be there to support people in that process right from the beginning.

“For those who will face the most difficulty paying our exceptional hardship fund will provide vital short-term support for the most financially vulnerable residents.”