COUNCIL tax benefit looks set to be cut again.

The cut is one option that will go before the Isle of Wight Council on January 17 as the council searches to find £7.5 million of savings in its annual budget.

Low income claimants can currently get 80 per cent support towards their council tax bill, but under the proposed change, this could fall to 70 per cent.

The change will only affect working age claimants and not pensioners. The council would also continue to offer its exceptional hardship fund to help those in most serious difficulty.

Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said: "Since we were elected last May, the council's cabinet has been working tirelessly to explore all areas of the council's finances and how we can deliver the best services we can in the face of some very difficult decisions on savings.

"We are determined to invest wisely in the Island's future and act prudently to balance the council's books - but there is no hiding from the fact that we are faced with some tough choices.

"It is with a very heavy heart that we are having to consider this option, but it is important to note that we went out to consultation on local council tax support between August and October last year, and the majority of respondents supported a reduction from 80 per cent to either 75 or 70 per cent."

Four years ago, local council tax support was fully funded by central government, but since then there has been a £6 million fall in central funding.

Cllr Stewart said: "The council has been placed in a very difficult position of providing a scheme to protect low income households while central funding is cut year on year and we are still required to provide support to pensioners as in 2013.

"It means we are continually needing to review our local council tax support scheme, and balance this alongside support for many other vital services.

"In terms of the council's overall budget, we are currently engaging collaboratively with all opposition groups on the council, to ensure we are open to a wide range of ideas and suggestions.

"We are also consulting widely with Islanders and stakeholders over the coming weeks to ensure we have extensive feedback before we set the annual budget at full council on February 28."

The report on local council tax support, which will go before full council on January 17, can be found here.

If approved, it is estimated the reduction in support from 80 per cent to 70 per cent would reduce the cost of the council tax support scheme by approximately £570,000 next year.