September 25th, 2016

Poorest families set to pay higher council tax

Updated: 4:34 pm, May 07, 2015

THOUSANDS of the poorest households in Coventry are set to pay disproportionately more in Council Tax due to cuts.

It is despite Labour leaders’ ambitions to protect the most vulnerable people from the worst cuts.

Coventry City Council’s budget plans unveiled this week include axing a Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which lowers bills for the most hard-up individuals and families.

Up to a third of Coventry homes receive council tax discounts, including the elderly and part-time workers.

Two years ago, the council retained its scheme when many other councils cut theirs. At the time, national government had passed to councils the responsibility for running their own schemes, while cutting funding for them.

Labour council leaders In Coventry wanted to protect the poorest people who were also being hit by coalition government benefits cuts.

But they say they can no longer afford to subsidise the scheme and are seeking to cut it by £3million, as the council’s total funding from government is set to be halved by 2017.

The council’s pre-budget report states: “The council is currently one of only a small number of authorites that has maintained the previous council tax reduction scheme at its original 100pc level.

“The proposal here is that the council reviews its local scheme and reduces the overall level of support with the detail of this being worked through during 2015.”

About £25million of council tax benefit goes each year via the council to more than 37,000 Coventry households, including through the scheme. Nearly half of those cases are pensioners.

In 2012, councillors had agreed to find the money from elsewhere in the council’s budget.

It meant those households saw no rise in the proportion of council tax bills they had to pay themselves, including those qualifying for single person discount because they lived alone.

If the scheme is now axed or reduced, all qualifying households will have to pay more in on top of any increase in Council Tax next year for all.

Council leaders fear the government will force them to hold a refendum if they attempt to raise council tax by more than one per cent to pay for dwindling services.

Meanwhile, the National Audit Office claims more than half of councils risk failing to meet budget plans because of heavy government funding cuts.

The overall reducaion in Coventry council’s “spending power” since 2010 is said to be 18 per cent, a lower figure than the government’s funding cuts.

The report also claims the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), led by Eric Pickles, has only a limited understanding of the impact of the cuts on the ground, and the ability of town halls to take more cuts.

Comments