THOUSANDS of people could be forced to pay more council tax if new relief plans come into force next April.

Bolton Council’s cabinet approved a new scheme to replace national council tax benefit, which is being scrapped by the Government.

The Government had ordered local authorities to come up with their own methods of delivering support to people who cannot afford to pay full council tax.

It has also slashed benefits funding by 10 per cent — leaving Bolton with a £3 million shortfall.

The authority launched a consultation on the plans, which will now go to full council for approval on Wednesday.

If given the go-ahead, the proposals could see more than 3,510 claimants across the borough — more than a quarter of people currently receiving council tax benefit — losing a combined £377,000 per year.

Pensioners are protected from the changes by law.

The new policy could: ● Cap entitlement for anyone living in properties in council tax bands A to C, meaning anyone in a band D property or above will have their benefits calculated as though they live in a band C, despite their tax bill being higher; ● Reduce the amount of savings someone is allowed to have before they are entitled to benefit from £16,000 to £6,000; ● Scrap backdated claims; ● Abolish the second adult rebate, such as when an adult child lives with a parent, meaning they would be expected to contribute; ● Take into account more of a person’s weekly income when calculating their benefit entitlement, including maintenance they receive for children or a spouse.

There are 122,000 chargeable properties in the borough and 33,000 of those have households who are entitled to council tax benefit, with 22,000 receiving 100 per cent relief.

Since the plans were unveiled in August, the Government announced a oneoff £100 million grant, of which the council will claim £495,000.

Anyone who gets 100 per cent of their council tax paid would now not lose more than 8.5 per cent of their support.

Bolton Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said: “Even 8.5 per cent is a lot of money to these people, once again it’s the most vulnerable that are being attacked.”

Cllr Nick Peel, executive cabinet member for the environment, added: “This is the best we can do in a very bad situation.”