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House of Commons Hansard
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12 November 2012
Volume 553
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13. What legal advice he has received on whether councils will have to carry out a new consultation process if they adopt a new scheme of council tax relief in order to qualify for the transitional council tax grant. [127624]

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As the hon. Lady may know, and as has been the practice of previous Administrations, the Government do not confirm or deny whether legal advice has been received on any issue. Whether further consultation is required is a decision for individual local authorities. Each local authority will have to make a judgment, taking into account the scope of its own initial consultation, the scale of any changes required and whether they require further consultation.

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Given that the Minister only weeks ago announced transitional relief should local authorities fulfil certain criteria, will he give them more time to consider and consult on the criteria by extending the deadline beyond 31 January, which is the date by which he said he would impose schemes?

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We are very determined to ensure that the local authorities applying for funding—bearing in mind that it is a simple scheme and that we will take the word of their section 151 officers—will have the money in advance and in full in March, which means a tight deadline. However, if local authorities and local authority leaders are looking at improving their scheme, in order to work with the Government’s scheme to protect the most vulnerable, they should challenge their officers over whether they need consultation.