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Norwich families to get say over council tax benefits shake-up

Norwich City Council is to ask the public for views on changes to the way benefits are handled.

Norwich City Council is to ask the public for views on changes to the way benefits are handled.

EDP pics © 2007

Families in Norwich are to be asked for their views on major changes to the system of council tax benefits - which critics have said could hit some of the city's most vulnerable people.

Norwich City Council stands to lose £1.5m a year under government plans to reduce the national council tax benefit bill by 10pc.

That means, from next April, councils will have to devise their own support schemes and council leaders have warned that, after they have met legal obligations to protect pensioners, the disabled and families with children, the cut will mean that people on low earnings will be disproportionately hit,

The city council has yet to reveal how it plans to deal with the issue, although a cross-party group has been looking at the issue.

The council is gearing up to run a consultation on its plans, which are likely to be discussed by the controlling Labour cabinet next month.

The authority intends to run a consultation from Thursday, September 13 until Thursday, December 6 to get people’s views on how they think the council can best manage a localised scheme.

As reported in the Norwich Evening News, there have been warnings of a postcode lottery, with each local authority coming up with a different formula over benefits.

Some councils will include child benefit as ‘income’ while others are likely not to, while some are proposing an across the board reduction in help.

Others have suggested a more complicated range of changes using a tariff.

At a council meeting in June, Alan Waters, city council cabinet member for resources, warned it was likely people on low incomes, or who received a “reasonable level” of council tax benefit, would face “additional hardship” under the government proposals.

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call Norwich Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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