Partial-victory for ‘Stop the Poor Tax’ campaigners

A campaign was been launched against the proposed changes
A campaign was been launched against the proposed changes

Campaigners welcomed softening of the council tax blow for 15,000 residents on low incomes.

Anti-austerity campaigners have welcomed news of a softening of the council tax blow for 15,000 local residents on low incomes. But they say the new proposals still mean the poorest households are being asked to chip in more than richer residents to meet the council’s funding gap, and are calling on the council to go further.

Under new proposals, announced on Friday by council leader Warren Morgan, people on low incomes will have to pay a third more than they currently pay in council tax, from next April.

Initial proposals for the council tax reduction scheme would have seen a 67% increase in the council tax bill for the city’s poorest residents.

Rose Rickford, a member of Brighton People’s Assembly Against Austerity, said: “We are pleased to see that the council have listened to our campaign and moved away from their original proposal. But a 33% increase for the poorest households in the city is still unfair, when you consider that people with much more to spare will only be asked to pay an extra 2%.”

As the Brighton and Hove Independent went to press (Thursday), campaigners held a meeting to discuss the issue.

Cllr Morgan, said: “The government is again cutting nearly £2 million this year from the support we give to residents on the lowest incomes to help pay their council tax. Despite this, we are proposing to continue to pay 80% of their council tax bills, more than many similar councils do. Despite government cuts of almost £2 million to the fund that pays the discount, we will still be paying 80% of the council tax of those on the lowest incomes, and be asking no-one to pay more than £1.65 extra a week.

“Most will pay less than £1 extra per week. We’d like to do more but this subsidy will cost us £3 million, twice as much as this year, at a time when our budget is being cut severely. We have listened to residents, and we will do all we can to ensure people have access to advice, support and additional funds if they are experiencing hardship.”

The decision on the council tax reduction scheme will be made at policy and resources committee on December 3.