Council tax benefit cut will hurt the poor in Dacorum

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Thousands of people on low incomes could have to pay out about £350 extra per year after a council tax benefit shake-up.

The unemployed and low-earning families, who do not now pay any council tax, would have to pay at least 25 per cent of the total bill under the changes.

This means someone living in an average Band D property, with a bill of £1,400 per year, would pay £350.

The council tax benefit bill to Dacorum Borough Council now stands at about £9.8m, most of which is funded with a grant from the government.

But from April 1, 2013, it will be cut by 10 per cent, forcing the council to find savings of around £1m per year.

The council hopes by making currently exempt households pay a quarter of their bill, it will make up the shortfall.

Pensioners, the disabled and people with children under five would be exempt from the changes – estimated to make up 7,000 of the 10,000 people in Dacorum who now claim council tax benefit.

Sally Marshall, Dacorum Borough Council corporate director of finance and governance, said: “I think inevitably, it will put a pressure on some households’ budgets. But it is a saving we have got to make.”

The government hopes the cut will push people back into work and cut its deficit.

An eight-week consultation on the plans will be launched on Monday, September 3.