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Council tax legal challenge risk

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The “tight” timescale for council tax benefit changes could leave councils at risk of legal challenge, finance directors have warned.

Authorities could face legal challenges under equality law, as they have over cuts to care and library services, if they fail to assess the impact of changes on vulnerable groups.

There is to be a 10% cut in council tax benefit funding from March 2013 when councils take over responsibility for the benefit from the Department for Work & Pensions.

Nathan Elvery, president of the Society of London Treasurers, said: “We need to consult with the right groups. The timescale we have got to do that is extremely tight.”

The government has yet to publish detailed regulations about the change, including which groups must be protected from the cuts. That could include pensioners and “vulnerable” groups.

Councils will then have to decide how to distribute the 10% cut, design a new system and consult with affected groups before 31 January.

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