11 February 2013
Massive budget planning exercise to help those most affected by LCTS scheme
As part of its campaign to help all those who will be affected by the introduction of the Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) scheme, Rochford District Council is going the extra mile to encourage people to start financially planning for April 1.
The Council is working with Hambury Tilmond Ltd to undertake a huge exercise which will involve them visiting 1,300 of those residents who will be most affected by the changes in their homes between February 18 and March 1 to offer them access to help, support and advice to financially plan for the new scheme.
The door-knockers are fully endorsed by the Council and will be carrying bespoke identification badges. The representatives from Hambury Tilmond will present those they visit with a letter detailing the main points of the new scheme as well as a simple budget planner that they can fill in at home and return to us.
Financial planning is vitally important for those affected by the scheme as – from April 1 – they will be expected to pay some or all of their Council Tax.
The budget planner is a simple way to work out where your money goes and where you can try to make savings so you can afford to pay when the LCTS scheme comes into effect from April 1.
The visitors from Hambury Tilmond Ltd will also give people a letter giving details of where they can go for help in planning for the changes, including the telephone number for the Council’s Revenues & Benefits Team and the Rochford and Rayleigh Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), who are ready to help you with budget planning.
Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Council Tax Collection, Benefits and Strategic Housing Functions, Councillor Malcolm Maddocks, said: “These home visits are another reminder to residents who will be affected by the changes from April 1 to get in touch with either the Council or CAB to financially plan for the new scheme.
It is only a few weeks until the LCTS is introduced so time is running out. The worst thing to do is bury your head in the sand when there is help out there.
The Council and CAB are working closely together to make sure that everyone who comes to us has had the opportunity to work out their finances so they can see what their outgoings are and how they can make savings. I want as many of those who will be affected as possible to access this resource.”
The Hambury Tilmond visitors will be carrying identification badges clearly identifying who they are. They will also be carrying letters with the Rochford District Council logo on it. However, we appreciate that some residents would like further proof of who they are. If you do then please do not hesitate to contact 01702 318019 and we will be able to identify them.
In all other circumstances, the Council will always telephone you to make an appointment before visiting you in your home. Council officers will not arrive on your doorstep unannounced and will never try to sell you anything.
Residents are also asked to bear in mind that, despite the company having a bailiff function, Hambury Tilmond will not be performing these visits in a debt recovery or bailiff capacity. For this exercise they are contracted solely to deliver a letter and budget planner and let you know the avenues of support and advice that are open to you.
The main points of Rochford’s LCTS scheme are:
· People living in properties whose Council Tax band is E, F, G or H will have their LCTS restricted to the maximum amount payable for a Band D property.
· Regardless of their financial circumstances, every working-age claimant will pay the first 20% of their council tax liability. This means people who currently get full CTB will have to pay something towards their council tax from 1st April 2013.
· The savings limit for claiming LCTS will be £6,000 (the limit for CTB at present is £16,000)
· Child maintenance is currently disregarded in full when we calculate CTB. Some people receive up to £1,000 per month which doesn’t get included in the CTB assessment. This disregard will stop and we will take child maintenance into account as income when we calculate entitlement to LCTS.
· Currently we reduce CTB for working-age people if an adult friend or relative lives with them – they are known as non-dependants. We want to try and ease some of the financial pressure as well as try to reduce homelessness and under-occupation of houses. Therefore we will stop making non-dependant deductions when we calculate entitlement to LCTS.
· Second Adult Rebate can be granted to single people who have a high income if they share their home with someone who is on a low income (not their partner). This scheme will be stopped for working-age claims.
· Pensioners will not be affected by the LCTS scheme.