Claimants to Pay Council Tax: Will this be the Coalition’s Poll Tax Moment?
A few weeks ago the New Statesman asked if plans to make those on benefits pay a proportion of Council tax will become the Coalition’s ‘Poll Tax’ moment.
“At present, those households deemed too poor to meet the monthly charge receive Council Tax Benefit to cover all or part of their bill. With 5.9 million recipients, it is claimed by more families than any other means-tested benefit or tax credit. Now, in its quest to roll back the welfare state, the coalition has cut the fund for Council Tax Benefit by 10 per cent. At the same time, it has localised the system, transferring responsibility for the new regime from central government to local councils.
From this April, councils must either maintain current levels of support and impose greater cuts elsewhere, remove other exemptions (such as those for second homes and empty properties), or ask those who receive a full or partial rebate at present to make a minimum payment. Early signs suggest that most will opt for the latter. An analysis by the Resolution Foundation and the New Policy Institute found that, of the 86 councils that have published their plans, 57 intend to introduce a minimum payment of between 6 and 30 per cent of a full council-tax bill.
On 8 January, Birmingham City Council announced it would impose a 20 per cent charge on the unemployed. That will mean a minimum payment of £200 a year for households affected.
A letter in the Guardian has since revealed,
The council has decided to charge people on benefits 20% council tax. Its analysis shows that 73 individuals will have to pay between £41.43 and £158.01 a week out of their £71 weekly jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), due to the cumulative impact of the council tax and the overall benefit cap from April. Also 49 couples with two children will have to pay between £72.40 and £255.24 out of their JSA plus children’s benefits of £258 a week.
We now see that the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign has been more and more active.
“Heed your own warning on “chaos” of Council Tax Benefit changes: Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign urges Nottingham City Council
The campaign group have written to the Council asking them to take seriously their own criticism of their latest proposals for a Council Tax Benefit Support Scheme for 2013/14. Instead of going ahead with an 8.5% cut to all Council Tax Benefit recipients of working age, they say the Council should delay passing on the cuts. The Council are permitted to pass a scheme with zero cuts to Council Tax Benefit for 2013/14 and still be entitled to transitional funding. If they did this, they would have a year to build a campaign with local residents and other groups across the country to demand a sustainable and fair alternative and prevent the introduction of a minimum 20% cuts in 2014/15.
JOIN THE LOBBY ON MONDAY 28TH JANUARY AT 1.00PM OUTSIDE THE COUNCIL HOUSE”
Ipswich will see a charge for the unemployed introduced, forced by Eric Pickles the Tory Minister in charge to be at a higher rate than the Council wanted (probably at around 8%).
But in some parts of London it’s going to be higher than Haringey: at 25%!