At sheringham paper, norfolk uk

@ Sheringham Community Paper - Issue 141 - 1st September 2012

SHERINGHAM & DISTRICT BRANCH OF THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION

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North Norfolk Lib Dems Demand scrapping of second home discount to help protect council tax benefit recipients

Leading North Norfolk Liberal Democrats are calling on the District Council to scrap the remaining discount on council tax for second home owners to help meet the shortfall in funding for council tax benefit payments. Councillors Graham Jones and Virginia Gay together with MP Norman Lamb want the council to take advantage of a new power to scrap the discount which will come into effect next April. This power was negotiated by the Liberal Democrats in Government.

Liberal Democrats want the Council to do all it can to protect council tax benefit recipients and argue that this step must be part of the solution.

Council tax benefits hitherto have been totally reimbursed by central government and last year amounted to 8,200,981; however from 2013 this reimbursement in Norfolk is likely to be reduced by some 14.3%. Pensioners are protected. Liberal Democrats want to see action taken to protect those of working age.

Lib Dem Cllr Graham Jones and Cllr Virginia Gay are members of a special working party with responsibility for developing a strategy for managing this situation. They will ask that the second home discount is scrapped and that the council agrees the principle that vulnerable working age recipients of council tax benefit are protected as far as possible.

Cllr Graham Jones said

“It must be possible for the Conservative led District Council to negotiate with the Conservative Led County Council to resolve this issue.”

Cllr Virginia Gay said

“We think that people of working age will suffer if this measure goes ahead as it is. The removal of the second homes discount would help enormously.”

MP Norman Lamb said:

“I have written to Eric Pickles about the situation in North Norfolk given the high proportion of benefit recipients being pensioners. I have campaigned for years to scrap the discount on council tax for second home owners. Now we have won that battle, the council could use the extra funds raised to help protect those affected by the reduction in Government funding for council tax benefit.”