At least 6,000 working-age families in Haringey will be better off under sweeping changes being introduced to Haringey’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

The changes, which are designed to make the distribution of council tax fairer and ensure that those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest weight, were approved following a vote of full council.

Currently, working age claimants with children can receive up to an 80.2 per cent reduction on their council tax – meaning they pay a minimum contribution of 19.8 per cent of the usual council tax – should they qualify.

Under the reformed scheme, the maximum level of support for these families will be extended to 100 per cent, so that families most in need will not pay at all. Those on prescribed disability benefits and pensioners will continue to receive up to 100 per cent support.

Proposals to end council tax for those most in need were backed by the public at a consultation carried out between September and November last year.

The changes will be introduced alongside other updates to the scheme, bringing it in line with many welfare changes and reflecting the rising cost of living – meaning low-paid residents, whether in or out of work and regardless of whether they have children, will also be better off.

Other measures approved by full council were:

Owners of long-term empty properties will now pay double the amount of council tax, in a bid to free up empty homes and tackle the borough’s housing crisis

Abolishing the council tax discount for vacant, unfurnished properties, including those undergoing repair work – a move that will save the council nearly £500,000 a year and again encourage empty homes to be brought back into use

There are believed to be around 500 properties in Haringey which have been empty for two years or more, whose owners have previously paid a 50 per cent council tax premium. This will rise to 100 per cent under the changes.

The plans also include abolishing the time-limited council tax discount that owners of unfurnished unoccupied properties, or empty properties undergoing renovation, currently receive.

Councillor Patrick Berryman, Cabinet Member for Finance, said:

“Since 2010, the council has suffered £122m real terms reduction in its funding, which has put huge pressure on our services and budget. Despite this, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that fairness is at the cornerstone of all that we do. We are proud to introduce these changes to our council tax reduction scheme, which means we are targeting support at those residents who need it most.

“Our manifesto was clear that we are committed to redistributing the burden of Council tax and these changes will help ensure that the greatest weight is placed on the broadest shoulders.

“It is a priority that London’s houses are lived-in, rather than treated as a place to store wealth. The increase in council tax premium for empty properties and the abolition of the discount for empty unfurnished homes will encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use as soon as possible. This is at a time when there are 10,000 people on the council’s waiting list for a home and 3,000 households living in temporary accommodation.”

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