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£90k potential shortfall after benefits alterations

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 16, 2013

  • Burton town hall

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REDUCED council tax collection rates in the next financial year could leave Burton Town Hall chasing £89,000.

East Staffordshire Borough Council revealed it is anticipating a successful tax collection rate of 96.5 per cent during 2013-14, meaning 3.5 per cent of people are expected to avoid or fail to pay their council tax.

But this predicted collection rate is a reduction from the current figure of 98 per cent.

Richard Grosvenor, leader of the Conservative-controlled authority, said the council would have to deal with this shortfall.

He said during a meeting of the council’s cabinet: “We are having to shoulder the burden of this in terms of reduced council tax collection rates.”

The Government, however, has pledged a £130,000 grant to ensure East Staffordshire councils do not lose out.

The predicted rise in the number of council tax dodgers during the next financial year has been blamed on Government benefit reforms.

But the borough council has moved to assure parish councils that changes to tax benefits will not leave them out of pocket.

Bernard Peters, the borough council’s deputy leader for service commissioning, said during the same meeting: “No parish will be worse off as a result of these changes.

“We are mindful of the community and its needs. We have tried to be equitable and fair.

“We are mindful of people’s circumstances and are looking to accommodate them wherever we can.”

From March, council tax benefits will be abolished and replaced with a local council tax support scheme, administrative responsibility for which will lie with the borough council. The amount of money paid out will also shrink.

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