Council tax changes could hit poorest in Burnley

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The poorest people in Burnley could be hit by changes to council tax support being considered by the borough council.

Low income families would pay more than £10 a month extra in council tax under the proposals which would bring in an extra £105,000 a year to the town hall but leave vulnerable households worse off.

The council is under pressure to find savings of £3m. over the next two years and the owners of empty homes would also be hit by changes to their discount.

Tonight the executive committee is set to approve putting the proposals out to public consultation which would begin on Monday and run until November 10th.

The consultation will cover a range of proposals, including increasing the amount people who claim council tax support contribute to their council tax bill, from 8.5% to 12.5% in the first year, and 17.5% from then on. The increase to 17.5% would mean a single person who claims full council tax support – which replaced council tax benefit last year – would pay an extra £2.68 a week. If agreed the changes would come into effect from next April.

Councillors are also considering changes to the amount of discount on council tax paid on empty homes. At the moment owners of empty properties pay no council tax for the first month after they fall vacant, and then 50% of the full bill for the following five months, after which the full amount is payable.

The proposed change would see owners pay no council tax on empty homes for the first two months and then the full amount from then on.

The public consultation will gather comments from residents, landlords and other interested parties before any final decision is made.

Coun. Howard Baker, the council’s executive member for resources and performance management, said: “These changes would bring in an extra £105,000 a year to the council which could be spent on providing services across the borough. We understand times are tough for everyone but the council is under considerable financial pressure and we have to find savings of £3m., or 19% of our budget, over the next two years.

“Phasing in increased council tax contributions over two years in a planned way will help those affected prepare and allow them time to either find work or increase their working hours and make sure arrangements are in place.”