Labour proposes 67% council tax rise - for the city's poorest households

Last year, Labour pushed through a 76% council tax increase for the 16,000 poorest households.

Last year, Labour pushed through a 76% council tax increase for the 16,000 poorest households in Brighton and Hove - while arguing the rest of us could not afford more than 1.9%.

Yesterday, it emerged the minority Labour administration wants this year to restrict the increase - for the poorest families - to only 67%.

That's just weeks after Councillor Warren Morgan, the Labour council leader, announced - without discussion, publicly or with Labour Party members - that council tax will increase by only 1.9% (for those of us above the breadline), for the next four years.

To be fair, the Labour-led council is consulting on the changes.

So you do have time to let him – and them - know what you think. Email: Or tweet: @warrenmorgan. (Formal responses can be made via the consultation page on the council website.)

Cuts in government funding are blamed for changes to the Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme.

The CTR scheme is set to cost £17 million next year, but government funding covers only £13.4 million - leaving a shortfall of £3.6 million.

Cllr Morgan - with Cllr Gill Mitchell, Labour's deputy leader - represents East Brighton, which has the biggest number of CTR recipients (more than 1,600 households, most of them in Council Tax bands A and B, the two lowest bands).

Proposed changes include putting up the minimum council tax contribution for low-income families from 15% to 25% (but limit that for those that are already in receipt to £3.50 extra per week as a result of that change).

They also propose removing the Family Premium from the calculation of council-tax reduction for new claims and changes of circumstances, which will mean some families that receive CTR will contribute more.

Cllr Les Hamilton, deputy leader for finance, said: “This is a difficult balancing act between helping the most vulnerable pay their council tax and limiting the impact of £3.6 million of government cuts on essential services such as social care.

“Reductions in government funding are creating unprecedented financial pressures on local authorities and it’s right that we look at all the services we run to see if changes should be made.This may lead to some very difficult decisions but this is not a situation we can ignore.”

Cllr Ollie Sykes, the Green party spokesperson on finance, said: “We’re very disappointed with these proposals, which will be a devastating attack on the poorest people in our city. The council tax demands on many low-income families will rocket with new council tax bills increased by as much as 67%.

"While we appreciate that the problem stems from the relentless funding cuts by the Conservative government, by passing this burden on to the poorest people in our city, the Labour administration is turning a blind eye to the people who need help most. For a Labour administration that set up a Fairness Commission only to propose something weeks later that is so unfair is utterly uncaring. This is textbook short-sighted decision-making, storing up more problems for the future.

“The Greens would focus our fight against cuts on the government rather than punishing our poorest residents. We would also use the opportunity of a consultation exercise, like this, to find out what our residents want the council to do to deal with an expected £100 million shortfall over the coming years.”