BOLTON'S council tax support programme has changed in a bid to bring the local authority in line with national schemes.

A bereavement allowance, Windrush compensation and infected blood payments will be disregarded costing the local authority more in tax support.

But less council tax support will be awarded to those who are absent from Great Britain for longer than four weeks.

Currently, support is awarded when someone is abroad for 13 weeks so this move is set to save Bolton Council some money.

But one Farnworth and Kearsley First councillor said the scheme, which is targeted at "certain sectors" of the community, should be scrapped altogether.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Monday, Cllr Paul Heslop accused the council of "picking" and "choosing" who it supports.

He said: “People who are going back home to their country to see sick relatives or elderly relatives that have died – from experience, these are the only people affected by these changes."

Borough treasurer Sue Johnson reminded the councillor that the scheme is already in place and not a new initiative.

She said: “I appreciate your comments about certain sectors, but in reality, it could be anybody who has relatives living abroad. It’s used so that that safety net is there."

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The cabinet approved these changes alongside a rise in empty property premiums.

Properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more will be subject to an additional 100 per cent council tax premium from April 1.

Properties which have been empty for five years will face a 200 per cent additional premium and a 300 per cent will be applied on properties which have been empty for 10 years or more in 2021/22.