Thousands of people in Walsall look set to be able to continue claiming council tax benefits, despite the Government slashing funding for it by £3.3 million.
Councils across the county are having to cope with the loss of millions of pounds when the Government stops reimbursing them for council tax benefits for working-age people. Walsall Council has today revealed it intends not to pass on the reduction to claimants but will find the money elsewhere. Councils have held months of discussions on how to cope with the funding reduction.
Walsall chiefs' decision has been made while a "more considered scheme" is drawn up for the future, a report has revealed.
In Walsall, more than 35,000 households receive council tax benefits.
Of these, 18,617 people would have been affected by the reduction, as 16,499 pensioners who claim it are exempt.
A report going to Walsall Council's cabinet next week says the preferred option will be to "fully fund the reduction in grant from other council efficiencies, savings or other income streams and adopt the current council tax benefit scheme rules.
"This option is the most feasible solution to implement given the time constraints." Finance boss Chris Towe said today: "We wanted to make sure the most vulnerable people are looked after.
"The last thing we need is for vulnerable people to be more under pressure. We hope the residents of Walsall will appreciate what has been done."
He said the decision had also been taken in the light of tight timescales and bec-ause the local authority wanted to make sure it got things right. An eight-week public consultation would have to be held over the iss-ue, if the preferred scheme is approved by cabinet.
Dudley Council has also said it will maintain the level of existing benefits.