Councillors reluctantly agree to take forward plans to scrap 100% Council Tax discount for unemployed (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Council leader vows to give any ‘workable alternatives’ to plans to reduce the maximum council tax benefit for working age adults full consideration
Proposals to reduce the maximum council tax benefit for working age adults are to go out to consultation, after senior Bradford councillors reluctantly agreed to take the draft scheme to the next stage.
The move to scrap a discount of up to 100 per cent given to 34,000 in the district has come amid cuts of ten per cent to the amount the authority receives from the Government in council tax support, amounting to £4.3 million.
Pensioners would be protected from the cuts, but others, such as the unemployed, disabled, and families on low incomes, face having to pay up to 25 per cent more.
A total of 27,000 people, who receive a full discount, would be sent a bill with an amount to pay for the first time. The average weekly amount extra to pay is expected to be £3.75, although changes would continue to be means tested.
Bradford Council leader, Councillor David Green , told the decision-making executive, this was an “invidious and despicable piece of legislation” with central Government forcing through cuts but not having the courage to actually do so, while passing it on to local authorities to implement.
He said: “I would urge all the councillors in Bradford to use any influence they have to lobby the Government and ministers over this legislation. There is still a chance they could rescue the hundreds of thousands of people across West Yorkshire who will be affected by these changes.”
Of the consultation, he added: “I will give an assurance that we will listen to people’s views and if people can come up with workable alternatives or amendments, we will listen and try to build that in. But I do stress it has to be seen against the backdrop of the Coalition’s cuts.”
Of suggestions that Government changes allowing the Council to raise more from collecting council tax on empty and second homes would cover the benefit reduction, he added that the figures did not match up.
The ruling Labour group has drawn up the proposals in an effort to make the scheme as fair and equitable as possible for all working age claimants. The Council must adopt a scheme by the end of January 2013, with a view to it being operational by April 1.
There are fears it will lead to an increase in the level of “child and adult poverty, debt and homelessness”.