Funding announced to offset benefit changes for Exeter's lowest-paid
WHITEHALL funding has been announced in a bid to help offset the impact of controversial changes to council tax benefit which it is warned will hit Exeter's lowest-paid.
But it has been pointed out the strings attached grant totalling £100 million will still leave councils facing a financial shortfall, and threatens to see an increase in non-payment of the charge.
Critics have branded the overhaul in support a "new poll tax".
The Government is seeking to reform the council tax benefit system in a bid to curb the spiralling costs. The bill hit £7.9 million in Exeter alone last year.
Under the changes local authorities are to be put in charge of council tax benefit as the overall budget for rebates is slashed by 10 per cent, meaning they will have to decide where cuts are made.
Pensioners will be protected against any reduction. But this hikes the average cut in support for the remaining working age claimants to 16 per cent.
Opponents have accused the Government of shifting the financial risk, and blame for centrally-imposed cuts, onto councils.
But Ministers argue the new system will give local authorities an incentive to make savings by tackling fraud and error.