Following reports that there will be further cuts next year, the Communities and Local Government department has denied the further cuts to council tax benefit.
After the 10% confirmed reduction in the benefit to take place as of April this year, the reports say there will be a further 8.5% cut next year.
According to the Local Government Chronicle, last week ministers from the Department of Communities and Local Government announced that the budget for Council Tax Benefit will be reduced by a further 8.5% in 2014-15, but the department has described this as 'totally untrue' and 'without foundation'.
Currently 5.9 million people receive council tax benefit, but as of April 2013 this will no longer exist and instead will be replaced with a grant that covers 90% of the cost. The responsibility of how to divulge this grant is on each local authority, and many are imposing greater reductions on working age claimants so that they are able meet a requirement to protect more vulnerable groups.
According to reports, members of the Local Government Association were told by CLG ministers this week that the grant would have a further cut of 8.5% in 2014/15, amounting to a £280 million reduction.
Officials from the CLG department have denied this, saying the funding will remain at £3.3 billion in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
A spokesperson said:
These claims are totally untrue, there is no reduction in the overall funding level for council tax support between 2013/14 and 2014/15 as set out in the provisional settlement in December, and any claims otherwise are without foundation.
Given council tax benefit spending has doubled, welfare reform is vital to help tackle the deficit. The localisation of council tax benefit will give councils stronger incentives to cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people back into work.
This comes amid possible council tax rises, in spite of David Cameron imposing a two year freeze on council tax rates. There are councils that are insisting they will have to go against this and raise council tax to cover costs for services such as meals on wheels and road repairs.
23 councils across England have said they plan to reject the freeze, and a further 71 say they are also considering it. This is after it was specifically ordered by Mr Cameron and Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary last month, when Mr Pickles said that all councils had a “moral duty” not to raise taxes.
The councils refusing this freeze plan to reject a grant offered by Mr Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in place of a tax rise, claiming they need the revenue for services.