THE government has changed the way support is given to people needing help to pay their council tax. Here's a detailed WAB Guide on how it'll affect you.

What's changing?

From April 1 the national council tax benefit scheme - which provides assistance to applicants on low income to reduce their council tax bills - is being replaced by new council tax support scheme which each council will decide locally.

The funding the government is providing for council tax support is now much less than it gave for council tax benefit and therefore the level of support the council can give to applicants under the new scheme has also had to be reduced.

Barnsley’s scheme in 2013/14 will be very similar to council tax benefit but some households will receive less council tax support because of the reduction in funding.

If you're a pensioner in receipt of council tax benefit you will not be affected by the change in the schemes and your entitlement will be protected under national rules (unless you're still receiving a working age benefit).

However, if you're of working age and in receipt of council tax benefit, you will be affected by the reduction in funding.

What will it mean to you?

Bills will be issued in March 2013 telling you exactly how much support you have been granted and what you will have to pay.

If you're a pensioner your council tax support will roughly be the same as it was under the council tax benefit scheme providing your circumstances remain the same.

Working age applicants who previously had nothing to pay are likely to receive maximum 85% support and will have to pay 15% of the council tax bill on your property in 2013/14.

Based on estimates - which do not account for discounts or parish charges - the annual charge you will have to pay for a Band A property would come to around £140, Band B around £163, Band C around £187 and Band D around £210.

If you're of working age and received some (but not full) benefit your council tax is likely to increase by 15% on what you paid in 2012/13.

What happens now?

The council will issue your 2013/14 council tax bill in March with an installment plan for payment to be made over 10 or 12 months from April.

You will also be sent a separate notification showing how your council tax support has been calculated.

You must ensure that payments are made in accordance with your installments to avoid proceedings being taken against you to recover arrears.

If you think any information held about you is incorrect or your circumstances have changed please contact the housing benefit and council tax support helpline on 01226 774743, after receiving your bill.