Friday, 18 January 2013

Lancaster’s support scheme will protect all council tax benefit claimants, say Greens

On Wednesday night Lancaster City Council voted 33-13 to preserve council tax benefit levels for all claimants in the face of a cut in government funding for the benefit. The government’s cut to the grant for council tax benefit would have resulted in the poorest-paid and unemployed couples in Lancaster district having to find £232 each year (£4.45 per week) in council tax from April. Single people would have been £174 a year (£3.34 per week) worse off.

Green councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox, who was responsible for much of the research behind the motion, said: "Green councillors have been insistent that extra revenue from extending the council tax levied on empty homes and second homes, added to a transitional grant from central government, could cover more than 87 per cent of the lost grant and that we should use these funds to protect people already struggling with increasing food and energy bills. The residents who will be affected by the loss of council tax benefit are those on low incomes who are also likely to face further cuts to their income as a direct result of the government’s wider welfare reform programme.

"But not only were the cuts to council tax benefit unfair, they threaten to be an administrative nightmare to implement," he added. "Even senior members of the Conservative party have pointed to the difficulty and expense of trying to collect relatively small sums - but still significant for the people charged - from relatively large numbers of already poor households who have been protected from paying council tax until now.

“I am delighted that the City Council supported maintaining a fully-funded council tax support scheme - not only because it was the right thing to do to help poorer people but was affordable too – and administratively the sensible option.

"With a further funding cut from government of £1.6m to come in 2014-15 there’s no guarantee that we can hold the line then. But at least we have the time to see what chaos is inflicted in other parts of the country by cuts in council tax benefit and to learn from it. As some senior Conservatives have said, the requirement to make every household pay some council tax, regardless of income, is a poll tax mark 2, and it didn’t work first time round.”


eartheart said...

Well done to Cllr Hamilton Cox. A 23% increase of this amount on the 6,000 poorest means tested households in the district would have been beyond appalling with food banks, energy price rises and huge debts dramatically rising. There is enough money apparently for the rich to get tax cuts of course. Really pleased to see this

Anonymous said...

Great work, Tim! 23% of council tax which is what was going through would have been disastrous for the working poor and unemployed who are being hit with increasing food and energy bills and cuts to housing benefit. Many people are resorting to food banks and having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families- it is clear the majority of those in power have no idea of what is happening, and even worse, no interest in finding out. It seems there's money to give millionaires a present of 5% tax back but not to lift those at the bottom out of grinding poverty.

Anonymous said...

Great work on the part of the Greens, I understand Mr Cox did a huge amount of research into this whole issue before it was debated, which helped greatly convince other councillors to support the motion passed. A shame other councillors aren't as dedicated to representing us.

Will Duckworth said...

Well done Tim!

You are the Green Party