BASSETLAW residents are being urged to have their say in a public consultation over major changes to Council Tax benefits.
The authority is currently consulting on the plan to reduce tax benefit payments by up to 20 per cent for all working age claimants.
Residents have until 28th October to have their say over the proposals - due to come into effect next year.
Around 5,000 of Bassetlaw’s poorest families are set to lose vital cash support as up to £1m is to be slashed in Council Tax benefits funding.
Families on low incomes will be expected to pay up to £200 a year extra from April 2013 as part of the Government’s welfare shake up.
Pensioners, however, will be protected, although the cuts are expected to place great pressure on Bassetlaw Council.
Council leader Simon Greaves said the Government cuts were ‘abhorrent’ and would affect the poorest families in Bassetlaw.
“The cuts are really hitting home now - sadly this is the cold harsh reality of the Government’s agenda and there will be more to come.”
“The idea of making the most vulnerable people in our society pay for their deficit is just wrong.”
He added: “Unfortunately we have no choice in putting these cuts into place but we will do our best to minimise the impact on Bassetlaw residents.”
“There are no magical solutions available and this is why it’s extremely important we get as much input from the public on this issue.”
Under the plans, a typical family earning £260 a week or less will be expected to pay up to £200 extra a year.
This will also affect couples earning £112 a week or less or single occupants earning £71 a week or less.
HOPE for Homeless manager Sandy Smith said the cuts were the latest in a line of welfare reforms and would be ‘disastrous’ for those on low incomes.
“This has been on the cards for a while and it does not bode well. We know there is an increase in petty crime, people becoming homeless because of their financial situation at their previous home and people losing hope,” she said.
“I wish the council all the luck in the world.”
“The district council will have their work cut out for them to try to support the community during these messaive changes.
For more information on the council’s consultation, visit www.bassetlaw.gov.uk or call the enquiry desk on 01909 533533.