Town halls 'forced to make the poor pay' after council tax relief scrapped

Town halls throughout England have been left in an difficult place by the Government's decision to scrap the national council tax benefit process in April, the Local Governing administration Affiliati

Town halls 'forced to make the poor pay' after council tax relief scrapped
Town halls throughout England have been left in an difficult place by the Government's decision to scrap the national council tax benefit process in April, the Local Governing administration Affiliation claimed right now.

The choice - which is forecast to help save the Treasury £414million - has remaining many regional authorities unable to shield vulnerable folks, the LGA included.

Figures released previously this thirty day period uncovered a thirty for every cent 12 months on year increase in prosecutions for non-payment of council tax considering the fact that the cuts had been launched six months in the past. The figures were being compiled by campaign group Wrong Economic climate, which despatched a sequence of flexibility of information and facts requests to 200 regional authorities.

Most difficult strike: Hackney has been a person of London boroughs worst affected by the Government's selection to scrap Council Tax aid

Even though the data showed a 15 for each cent boost in the range of legal responsibility orders - issued by magistrates courts for non-payment of council tax - on the former year, the figure jumped to thirty per cent in neighborhood authorities that experienced withdrawn council tax reduction or slice it for the inadequate.   A lot more...

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Some of the poorest London regional boroughs have been strike the toughest. The Labour-controlled borough of Enfield has witnessed a 62.5 per cent improve in liability orders in the previous 12 months, even though Hackney has found an raise of sixty two.1 for each cent and Newham 25 for every cent.

Rotherham, Bradford and Burnley are between the worst impacted natioanally with proceedings up a lot more than eighty per cent on past year.

The rise in prosecutions bears alarming similarity to those people of the late 1980 and early nineteen nineties for the non-payment of the freshly introduced Poll Tax - which Margaret Thatcher's govt released to swap the old household charges technique - major to accusations the Governing administration was criminalising poverty. The tax proved to be Mrs Thatcher's downfall.

Present day warning from the LGA comes as the Nationwide Audit Office environment discovered the Government's choice in April to scrap the nationwide council tax benefit procedure correctly minimize central federal government funding for Council Tax assistance by 10 for every cent.

The NAO claimed most councils have responded by passing on at the very least some of that reduce to minimal-profits homes which previously received assist with payments. 

Since they grew to become liable in April for designing their very own community help strategies, 71 per cent of councils have introduced a prerequisite for all working-age claimants to shell out at the very least some council tax, regardless of profits, the NAO found. And forty one per cent have launched minimum payments for all households, with exemptions only for pensioners and war pensioners.

Genuine worries: Margaret Hodge, MP, chair of the General public Accounts Committee warned council would experience genuine trouble in collecting Council Tax because of from vulnerable households

The new arrangements, which mean many very low-revenue households are owning to pay out the tax for the to start with time, have lessened incentives to work for some council taxpayers, the NAO found. 

It reported the Office for Communities and Regional Governing administration wanted to 'do more' to understand the fiscal influence which the modify has imposed on regional authorities.

The chairwoman of the influential Residence of Commons General public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, claimed she had 'real concerns' about the monetary outcomes for councils and vulnerable claimants, warning that authorities - especially in the most deprived areas - would find it increasingly tough to gather the tax from individuals who ended up struggling to shell out it.

The chairwoman of the LGA's finance panel, Sharon Taylor, said: 'As this report recognises, councils have been pushed into an unattainable position by the Government's ten for each cent slice in funding for council tax assistance.

'This will come on prime of the forty three per cent slash to nearby authorities funding and as a final result many regional authorities have been left unable to protect individuals who can least afford to pay.

'Because of Government's stipulation that pensioners have their council tax gain secured, councils have been forced to opt for between asking doing work-aged claimants to pay extra tax or getting significantly-needed money absent from other services.

'Protecting the most susceptible and needy members of modern society is a priority for councils but - as we warned when this reduce was 1st proposed - we simply cannot shield those people on the cheapest incomes when some of the conclusions about who receives this gain have been taken out of our palms.'

Ms Taylor identified as for councils to be supplied the electrical power to lessen discounts on the payments of all those who live by itself, in buy to be ready to focus on help at those people who need it most.

The NAO report discovered that the DCLG labored 'effectively' with regional authorities to make sure the new procedure was launched on program, but famous that not all councils will reach the aims outlined by the office to strengthen incentives to work and safeguard susceptible people today.

With neighborhood authorities given freedom to structure their individual schemes, most have lower support for claimants and applied new powers to charge extra council tax on 2nd homes and temporarily empty houses in buy to soak up some of the affect of the lowered funding.

Ms Hodge claimed: 'Local authorities have earned recognition for employing council tax assist on program in what is an extremely hard surroundings for neighborhood federal government. They had just 9 months to do so due to the fact it took the department 19 months from announcing the plan to issuing councils with steering on designing neighborhood schemes.

'The office expects to help save £414 million by localising council tax assistance in order to aid the objective of deficit reduction, still in performing so it simply transfers fees from central to area governing administration, at a time when councils are currently experiencing sizeable finances cuts.

'I have authentic considerations about the economical impact this will have each on nearby authorities and on claimants.

'There is a threat that regional authorities will locate it more and more challenging to acquire the council tax owed if these on the lowest incomes wrestle to shell out. I am concerned that councils in the most deprived places may possibly notably battle.'

Very last month an mind-boggling vast majority of city halls in England and Wales mentioned they planned to raise Council Tax next 12 months for the first time due to the fact the Coalition governing administration promised to freeze the regional levy.

City halls reported they would be doing so in get to cope with increased need for products and services and the impression of paying cuts.

Exploration carried out by the Neighborhood Govt Chronicle suggests that 75 for each cent of county councils will carry in the raise, inspite of economic incentives from the Government to freeze the area levy.

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13 December 2013 Friday 09:29
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