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West Suffolk Council tax reduction scheme for struggling families could be extended

West Suffolk’s tax reduction scheme could be extended to help families during the cost-of-living crisis.

Last night, cabinet members were asked to agree to extend its Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) before it is considered by full council later this month, on December 19.

The scheme sees over 4,500 residents have up to 100 per cent of their share of council tax written off every year.

Councillor Diane Hind, West Suffolk Council. Picture: submitted
Councillor Diane Hind, West Suffolk Council. Picture: submitted

Cllr Diane Hind, resources portfolio holder, said: “I think anything you can do to help people through these difficult times is essential.

“When people are having to make economies, any small saving soon adds up.

“I hear of mothers who are feeding their children, or people who are saying they can either heat their houses or they can eat — it’s very sad when things get to that state of affairs.”

West Suffolk Council, Bury St Edmunds.
West Suffolk Council, Bury St Edmunds.

The scheme was initially set up in 2013 following a one-off Government grant which partly compensated the council for awarding up to a 91.5 per cent reduction for those who needed it the most.

In 2023, councillors agreed to increase the maximum reduction to 100 per cent, following an easing the year before on how many residents can benefit from the scheme by lowering the threshold of capital they can own.

However, Cllr Hind also mentioned she had received concerns over how much the scheme is costing the council every year.

Should it be approved by full council, West Suffolk would see an impact of just over £47,500 as a result.

Cllr Hind added: “I think it’s like a lot of things, there are always winners and losers, but it’s undoubtedly something that, in my opinion, is the right thing to do.

“It’s a small gesture, but it’s something that we can do in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“It’s an opportunity to ease the financial burden many are facing at a time when many are choosing to heat or eat — this change makes sense.”

The current extension proposal would be a short-term measure, with the LCTRS scheme set to revert to a 91.5 per cent reduction for the 2025/26 financial year.