East Devon residents are being asked to have their say on how much the council should pay towards the council tax bills of working age householders on low incomes who live in the district

East Devon District Council began a ten week consultation on Monday June 27 on proposed changes to the working-age Council Tax Reduction Scheme which sets out a framework on how much council tax support can be claimed by these households.

It will be the first time in four years that the council is proposing to change the scheme, which was introduced in 2013. The amendments are being drafted to bring the scheme in line with the Government’s latest welfare reforms to housing benefits and Universal Credit and will also reduce the council’s administration costs. This does not affect pensioners.

The consultation is being carried out alongside other Devon local authorities who are looking at making similar changes to their own schemes from April 1, 2017.

In East Devon, eight changes to the scheme are being proposed and include introducing a minimum income level for the self employed, reducing the backdating of claims from six months to one month, reducing the period of time an applicant can be temporarily out of the country while claiming the support, and restricting the allowances on new claims to a maximum of two children for council tax reduction.

The council believes that around 500 households currently claiming the support may be affected in the district and the changes will also affect new claimants too. The council is writing to those that may be directly affected advising them of the proposals and inviting them to complete a paper-based questionnaire.

They can, if they prefer, find out more about the proposals on the council’s website and complete the consultation online.

All other East Devon residents who may want to voice their opinion on the changes can also complete the questionnaire online or on paper. Other organisations, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and welfare groups will also be invited to comment on the proposals.

The consultation is open until Sunday 4 September and the results will be published on the council’s website later this year. A final decision on proposed changes to the scheme will be made by the council by January 31, 2017 at the latest.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council, said:

We want to ensure that everyone has their say on these draft changes to the scheme, not just those who are affected.

We need to know how our residents want us to spend their council tax and what level of help we should give. Above all, we want to ensure that these changes are introduced in a way that treats people as fairly as possible.

Residents who would like a paper version of the questionnaire can request a copy by contacting the Benefits team on 01395 517446.