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Labour blasts proposed changes to council tax support

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Labour Parties have described proposed changes to the local Council Tax Support Scheme as “calculating and cruel”. Under the guise of harmonising council tax support across the conurbation, the proposals actually reduce the amount of benefit to many people in the area, with Christchurch residents being the most adversely affected initially.

The main proposals are to:

  • To limit the number of dependent children taken into account within the calculation of Council Tax Support to a maximum of two for working age claimants.  The cost of this to families is not costed in the consultation.
  • Set the minimum contribution at 20% for working age residents not in a protected group.  This proposal will affect 705 households in Christchurch who currently pay a minimum of 8.5% of their total bill.  The immediate cost will be £3.70 extra per week for a working age couple living in Christchurch on 2018/19 council tax rates.
  • To withdraw the family premium for new working age claims and new families – this will cost families up to £3.49 per week.  Existing claimants will be protected, but the cost will be borne by new claimants and in the future all families which have more than 2 children.
  • Introduce a self-employed minimum income floor, which will assume a self-employed person is earning the minimum wage for 35 hours per week – regardless of whether or not they are.  This is currently the rule for people in receipt of Universal Credit and will therefore not allow for fluctuations in the income of self-employed people.  This means that someone earning below the minimum income floor in a given month, will not receive any further council tax support.

Patrick Canavan, Labour Spokesperson for the consultation, said:

“The idea of the new local authority was to cut overheads and layers of management in order to use the resources freed up to improve local services.  However, it is already being used to cut expenditure on people in need of support and among the lowest paid in our community.

“The proposed scheme means that those who are already just about managing, families with children and working age adults on low pay, and the self-employed, will be losing support and have to find more money to pay their council tax bills.

“These changes are calculating and cruel and should be abandoned in place of a scheme that ensures the lowest paid in our community receive at least as much support as they do under the current system.”

ENDS

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