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All those of working age, who currently receive local Council Tax Support (formerly Council Tax Benefit), may have to pay a minimum 20 per cent towards their Council Tax bill in future when New Forest District Council makes changes to its support scheme in 2014. Currently, the minimum contribution is 8.5 per cent.

New Forest residents have until 27 September to take part in the council’s consultation and have their say on whether they would support this, and other proposed changes to the scheme.

Council Tax Benefit was abolished by the government at the end of March 2013 and all local councils have had to replace it with local Council Tax Support. At the same time, government funding to provide this support has been cut by around £1 million in the New Forest meaning the new scheme cannot be as generous. Without making changes to the local support scheme, the loss of funding would result in either reductions of local services or higher Council Tax.

A local support scheme requiring working age claimants to pay a minimum 20 per cent towards their Council Tax was approved by councillors last year following consultation with residents. The scheme was put on hold for 2013-14 however, as the government announced it would provide a once-only grant to councils adopting its interim support scheme for the first year, aimed to ease the transition for those on low income. This scheme only required a minimum 8.5 per cent contribution.

Councillor Colin Wise, New Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for finance and efficiency, said: “In light of the significant reduction in government funding, we are having to make some difficult decisions over who will get help to pay their Council Tax in the future.

“Now that the transitional grant is also being removed we need to re-visit our local scheme and would like to give residents a further opportunity to have their say before we introduce any changes on 1 April 2014.”

To find out more about the draft proposals and to let the council know which changes you would support, go online at newforest.gov.uk/cts  or phone customer services on

023 8028 5000 for a paper copy of the questionnaire and supporting documents.

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