South Hornchurch councillors were horrified to be accused of supporting the Council’s new policy of reducing the Council Tax Support for those on benefits. This will mean they will have now have to pay from this month 25% of their national Council Tax bill (20% if disabled).
Emma from Elm Park, a resident who is facing the increase in council tax told The Enquirer: “I know all Councils have had huge cuts to their budgets but the most vulnerable in the borough will suffer even more.
“As it, they struggle to make ends meet and now with this increase we will be even more stretched.
“I thought austerity was over? Why are local governments still facing all these cutbacks?
“We need proper funding to our councils so increases like this do not happen. The most vulnerable in the area here struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet. A situation like this could be the straw that breaks the camels back.”
Councillors Natasha Summers and Graham Williamson have been approached by residents on benefit asking why they had supported it. Councillor Summers said: “We were upset that residents thought we had supported taking more from the most vulnerable when in fact we had voted against it!
“Letters sent to these residents stated that ‘Members (councillors) had agreed to change the Council Tax Support Scheme for almost all working age claimants’”
“The letter should have said the majority supported it rather all councillors support this extra charge on our most vulnerable residents (around 9,000 families in Havering).
“Opposition Resident Association councillors actually voted against the increased demand but the Conservative Administration outvoted us”
Councillor Williamson said “The Government has further cut our funding which makes Council finances difficult to balance but taking these amounts from the most vulnerable will hurt them whilst raising a relatively small amount to Council.
“The Administration ran an earlier consultation of residents and found the majority of respondents rejected the proposal but to no avail. The increased demand will mean Havering working age claimants will be required to make one of the highest levels of contribution across the whole of London.”
“There are surely other ways of bridging any funding gap without targeting those least able to pay. The letter adds insult to injury by suggesting all councillors supported it!”
Working age people on benefits will see their contributions increase in April from 15% of council tax to 25%, whilst disabled claimants contributions increase from 15% to 20%.