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Fewer recipients of tax relief

MORE than 4000 fewer people are receiving council tax relief since responsibility for assistance shifted to Scottish authorities.

Around one-fifth of households pay no council tax or a pay a reduced amount at a cost of £1 million a day to Scottish public finances, the equivalent of £365m a year, official figures show.

The UK Government abolished council tax benefit (CTB) in April and transferred 90% of the funding to Scotland to distribute to low-income households.

The Scottish Government and councils replaced CTB with their own council tax reduction (CTR) scheme, and topped up the remaining 10% with £40m from their own budgets.

Recipients of CTR dropped from 552,130 at its inception to 547,860 six months later. The amount spent dropped from £7,086,200 a week to £7,014,600.

Around 70% of CTR recipients are on benefit because they are either low income pensioners, ill or disabled, looking for a job, or on low pay and low hours. A tenth of CTR recipients have a job.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "The UK Government's welfare reforms unfairly impact on some of the most vulnerable members of our society such as pensioners.

"Thousands of Scots are paying a heavy price for Westminster decisions. That is why we are working together with councils across Scotland to deal with and mitigate the UK Government's reckless actions.

"With our partners in local government, we reached agreement to plug the estimated £40m gap in funding from the UK Government for CTB successor arrangements in 2013/14.

"Only with independence can Scotland properly capture economic opportunity and tackle inequality and poverty."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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