‘Poorest Sheffield households’ must pay tax

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WORKING-age families who currently receive full council tax relief will have to start paying a small amount from April.

Sheffield Council is set to approve the changes at a meeting on Wednesday, which will mean people living in a Band A property will have to pay at least £4.32 a week in council tax.

Other changes involve removing a 10 per cent discount on council tax for second homes.

Meanwhile, a 12-month council tax-free period for empty homes in need of repair will be cut to a 25 per cent discount on normal rates.

And a discount for other empty homes of 100 per cent for the first six months will be reduced to 10 per cent.

The authority is having to reduce council tax benefits after a cut of £5.5 million in Government funding to cover the payments.

The overall reduction to council tax benefit budgets is about 
10 per cent, but the council said it is having to cut council tax benefits for people of working age by 23 per cent, because it is not allowed to make changes that will affect pensioners.

The council said it is establishing a £500,000 hardship fund to help the poorest families affected.

Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “This is one of the most unfair cuts the Government is making, as it will impact on some of the poorest households.”

The council is making £50 million of cuts in 2013/14.