York Green Party

Green Party Condemns Council Tax Rise for the Poorest

9 November 2012

The Green Party has today condemned the government's cut to council tax benefit that will force York's most vulnerable residents to pay an unaffordable amount of council tax.

The Greens called on the Council to investigate ways of using revenue raised elsewhere to avoid vulnerable groups being pitched against each other for cuts as council officers work to draft the new scheme proposal in time for December Cabinet.

Full council tax benefit has, until now, been given to those who are either in work and on very low incomes or unable to find work, with others being given a partial rebate. The rebate has been fully funded by the government so that the local Council's coffers are unaffected. However, from the first April next year the government has landed York with a £1.3million black hole and left it to decide how the remainder is spent - as long as pensioners receive no cut to their current entitlement.

The Green Party believes the council should do everything within its power to soften the blow of the new scheme. They say that if necessary the Council should allocate the additional council tax receipts resulting from changes agreed at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting to off-setting up to half of the £1.3 million deficit being imposed by the Government. This additional money income will come from changes to the regulations regarding second homes and empty properties.

Green Group leader, Andy D'Agorne said "For families who are only just managing to survive, as energy bills and rent rise much faster then wages, the extra £5 per week that they will lose could push many to breaking point.

"The Council is being forced to make massive cuts across the board. We still believe, however, that every effort should be made to cushion the impact of this cut as it is going to lead to a combination of underpayment of council tax as people who can't pay, don't pay and increased poverty, leading in turn to increased costs in other service areas.

"I welcome the Cabinet decision on Tuesday. We are all aware that there is a severe lack of affordable housing in the city. It seems inappropriate that we should be providing exemptions or reductions for second homes and empty properties in these circumstances, but I would also like to see a commitment to use this money to reduce the impact of the changes to council tax support."

The Green Party understands that the government has come forward in the last few days with a scheme which offers increased financial support to councils for the coming year only if they hold down the maximum increase in payment to 8.5% and that the council is investigating how they can use this scheme.

Whatever is decided a new scheme has to be agreed by 31st January prior to the council's overall budget setting. It is planned that the York scheme will be approved by Cabinet in December.







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