People across Eastbourne are being asked their views on a proposal to increase financial support for low-income families and residents in financial difficulty.

A consultation was launched on Monday and will run until 5pm on Monday, 30 September 2024, about a proposed new Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2025/26.

The government has stopped the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme and since April 2013, local authorities have had to run their own schemes to help working age residents on a low income to pay their council tax.

The government sets the rules for the help given to those of pension age.

Cllr Stephen Holt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “I hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to give us their opinion about our proposal to ensure people who are struggling get the support they need.

“With the cost of living crisis an ongoing reality for thousands of families on low wages and in insecure work, we are committed to exploring all options available to help our residents who find themselves in the toughest of financial situations.

“Like many local authorities across the UK, we are managing huge financial challenges. Despite this, we have committed to consulting over proposals to offer additional financial support for local people struggling with the cost of living.”

If the changes are adopted it will result in a reduction in the council tax due to the council of over £114,000 per year.

To offset this potential loss of income, the council would need to look for areas to reduce spending and generate income across its service.

The council’s proposed scheme would reduce council tax bills for the worst-off working age people or those on the lowest incomes in the borough. It would also remove the minimum income floor for the self-employed and there would be no minimum award value.

Cllr Daniel Butcher, Cabinet Member for Finance, said:

“The previous government put a stop to national council tax support for the most financially vulnerable, so I am pleased this scheme could mark the return of a lifeline for them. It is sorely needed in these difficult times.”

The cost of the scheme is shared between the preceptors: Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police, and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in proportion to their share of council tax receipts.

Full details of the impact on costs and how to respond to the consultation are available at: www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/Council-Tax-Reduction-Consultation