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Scheme to reduce council tax for the most vulnerable in South Lakes to continue

A scheme that reduces the amount of council tax paid by the most vulnerable people in South Lakeland is to continue.

A meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s full council this week backed the continuation of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which has been in place since 2013.

The scheme continues to offer up to 100 per cent reduction for all eligible residents, supporting people on benefits or low incomes.

Last year it helped 4,856 households in South Lakeland, with just under half of recipients being pensioners.

The scheme was introduced as a replacement for the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme, which was abolished in 2013.

The old national scheme was paid for by a 100 per cent grant from central government, but this was reduced to 90 per cent when responsibility for the grant was passed to local authorities.

SLDC, with the support of Cumbria County Council and the Cumbria Police Authority, met the cost of the 10 per cent grant reduction, about £560,000, by making technical changes to council tax.

This has included reducing the council tax discount on second homes from 10 per cent to 0 per cent, introducing 100 per cent council tax on properties left unoccupied for more than six months and introducing a 50 per cent council tax premium on properties left empty for more than two years.

The extra income generated from these changes has been used to offset the 10 per cent government grant reduction.

Councillors were also told that SLDC had received £487,092 from government last year to support economically vulnerable people and households in response to COVID-19 to provide council tax relief alongside existing local council tax support schemes to all working age recipients of council tax reduction during 2020/21.

SLDC increased the maximum support available from £150 to £300, to reduce the net council tax liability of all working age recipients of local council tax support throughout 2020/21.