TEST Valley Borough Council is to distribute £85,408 worth of grants to parish and town councils in its area to compensate for a reduction in income arising from council tax benefit changes.
The decision of the Government to stop fully funding council tax benefits has had a knock-on impact on the borough and parish council which will see their incomes fall.
Andover loses £18,324 while Romsey is even harder hit, losing £19,491 in 2013-14 and while the grants compensate these councils this coming year, it is likely that such grants will be axed next year by communities minister Eric Pickles as part of the Government’s budget tightening process.
The changes will hit all councils in England and some, including Test Valley Borough Council.
The borough has decided to recoup some of the shortfall it will experience by changing certain discounts and exemptions previously offered to second home owners and those responsible for empty properties.
This year’s grant to parish councils however is described by Test Valley Borough Council’s portfolio holder Peter Giddings as ‘a one off’.
In his report to the council’s Cabinet, Cllr Giddings added: “In addition, the council will also no longer benefit from the income earned from recovering overpaid benefits.
“It is expected that this will result in an increase in the budget gap of £30,000 a year.”
Other councils that will have significant one-off grants to cover the shortfall next year are Abbotts Ann (£13,365), Enham Alamein (£1,891), King’s Somborne (£2,965), Longparish (£1,440), Shipton Bellinger (£1,291) and Smannell (£1,854).