Labour council benefit cuts will hit 20,000 ‘horrendously’

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Axing Council Tax support will affect 20,000 of the borough’s poor and disabled, with ‘devastating consequences’.
By STEVEN DOWNES

The Labour leadership of Croydon’s cash-strapped council last night voted in favour of drastic cuts to the borough’s Council Tax Support Scheme which, according to their own official report, will adversely affect families with children, lone parents, carers and those on Universal Credit.

Yes: many of the same people who are losing the £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit – which the Labour leadership of Croydon Council opposes – will now be hit by Council Tax bills that could increase by up to £29 per week.

The council’s cuts are estimated as affecting at least 20,000 Croydon households.

The details of the Council Tax Support cuts were first reported by Inside Croydon last week. The council, under leader Hamida Ali, had been keeping the dire truth from the public for more than a month, hiding behind the “purdah” period of the mayoral referendum.

The proposal by Ali’s council has been described by disability charity and community groups as “a dreadful move”, one which “will impact horrendously on disabled people, single mothers with children and low-paid workers”.

Hamida Ali: opposes removal of UC uplift, but takes away Council Tax support from thousands

The detail was pushed through at last night’s cabinet meeting by councillors Callton Young (cabinet member for squandered resources and not much financial governance) and Stuart King (cabinet member for Croydon disrenewal), and is expected to save the council about £5.7million per year.

The cash saving is the principal reason, though another one offered by the floundering local authority is that “administering multiple support schemes for residents… is administratively burdensome and time-intensive for the council”. Poor things.

Council Tax Support was introduced in 2013, and was originally mostly paid for by central government. But in line with most Tory austerity, the Conservatives have been outsourcing cuts down the line to local authorities over the past decade, gradually decreasing the amount paid towards Council Tax Support,  while the demand for it has continued to grow.

In the report that went to cabinet last night, the council’s new finance director, Richard Ennis – intriguingly now also described as “deputy chief executive”; when was that announced? – gave among the principles of the existing Council Tax Support scheme,

  • Council Tax Support should be paid to those with minimal savings – residents who have capital of more than £8,000 cannot claim
  • Council Tax Support should be property-related – Residents can only receive Council Tax Support to a maximum of band D
  • Everyone should pay something
  • Protecting the vulnerable – Residents who are either pensioners, or working age residents who receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Employment and Support Allowance (part work-related), residents who are in receipt of Income Support or a Single Parent with a child under five receive the same level of Council Tax Support as they did under the Council Tax Benefit Scheme

Given the wide-ranging cuts to the scheme being proposed in Croydon, including a version of the return of a form of means-testing, it appears that the final principle, “protesting the vulnerable”,  is being all but abandoned.

How the cost of paying Council Tax Support has grown in Croydon over the past four years.  The Labour plan will slice £5.7m out of those costs in 2022-2023

Paula Peters, the co-founder of Bromley and Croydon Disabled People Against Cuts who led the demonstrations on the steps of the Town Hall last week, told Inside Croydon, “The proposed cuts to Council Tax Support are a dreadful move by Croydon Council.

“This will impact horrendously on disabled people, single mothers with children and low-paid workers, many of whom are already impacted by the cut to the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit.

“The cost of living is rising horrendously, and this proposed cut to Council Tax Support will have devastating consequences and plunge people impacted into deeper poverty.

Paula Peters, of DPAC: ‘Yet again, disabled people and low-paid workers are paying for a financial crisis they didn’t cause’

“Yet again, disabled people and low-paid workers are paying for a financial crisis they didn’t cause.”

The cabinet paper passed last night included some “red lines” for the new scheme before it will go for public consultation.

  • Retain 100 per cent protection for pensioners, care-leavers under-25 and disabled
    non-working residents
  • Income bands should be based on intervals of £50
  • The maximum level of income per week before someone is not eligible for
    CTS of £450 per week or £23,400 per year
  • The maximum discount awarded for (non-protected) working-age residents
    should be 80 per  cent
  • Introduce a Hardship Fund to support residents transition for the current CTS scheme to an income banded scheme

But by introducing these cuts, following the disastrous Labour referendum campaign against having a directly elected mayor, council leader Ali and her team have managed to score a spectacular own-goal, handing the moral high ground to the local Tories.

How Croydon’s revised CTS scheme will operate, according to last night’s cabinet report

Last week, one of the opposition Conservatives senior councillors, Jason Cummings, said, “The failure to manage Croydon Council’s finances by Labour was a key factor in the referendum vote.

“Racking up £1.5billion of debt, an unsustainable level, was irresponsible and reckless. That it happened under a cloud of allegations of bullying and poor governance is even more shocking.

“Already the effects of the cuts that will be necessary to retrieve this situation are starting to bite and there are many more to come. To balance next year alone another £38million are being announced. This burden will fall squarely on the shoulders of Croydon’s residents, many of them the most vulnerable in our town.

“The blame for this lies with the current Labour administration.”

The cabinet will discuss the scheme further on December 6, with a full council meeting one week later when the package of £38million-worth of cuts will finally go to a vote of the full council.

Read more: Cynical, hypocritical and devious: benefit cut to hit thousands
Read more: ‘We are all victims’: time for a residents’ Council Tax strike
Read more: Further £38.4m to be sliced from next year’s council budget


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Labour council benefit cuts will hit 20,000 ‘horrendously’

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    If this issue was not so serious I would be clutching my stomach and weeping with laughter at the Mr Cummings comments So a feedback sandwich on three of those comments from one of those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Category.

    1. “Racking up £1.5billion of debt, an unsustainable level, was irresponsible and reckless. That it happened under a cloud of allegations of bullying and poor governance is even more shocking”

    2. “Already the effects of the cuts that will be necessary to retrieve this situation are starting to bite and there are many more to come. To balance next year alone another £38million are being announced. This burden will fall squarely on the shoulders of Croydon’s residents, many of them the most vulnerable in our town.

    3. “The blame for this lies with the current Labour administration.”

    Now let us remind ourselves of the facts
    1. Mike Fisher and Co regime ran up a good amount of debt . Central Government added to that debt with the cuts made and transfer of this benefit to Local administrations and along with some other changes added quite a few hundred million to it. Newman, Ali and Co. regime added to that debt and delivered the coup de grace to our financial resilience. So out of that pile of debt the score is Tory Party 2 – Labour 1 hmmm

    I do agree with the cloud of allegations of bullying and poor governance being even more shocking. Was this charge not leveled at both parties when they are in charge? Is not the fact that both ”Strong Leaders” destroyed our finances with Central Government giving both a good stir for maximum effect? Did not Cameron resign with his mis-calculation – then May and God bless the Blond Bombshell added depth to that with their actions? But hey Labour have also had their share of investigations – so (being generous to The Tory party that were mostly in Office and therefore more culpable) lets call that part a score draw. 1 – 1

    2. With both parties and central government culpable for this debt – exactly how much of the Government funding to Croydon Council is going to pay off the debt all three have run up? (How much is either party going to pay for their representatives mismanagement?) (£20k and whatever the tories shelled out on their campaigns could have been gifter to thier favorite charity – Croydon Councils CEO to defray expenses.
    Are all the shortfalls going to be paid by residents in higher tax and shoddy to no services in return? Before hyperbole can we actually have some honesty going forward? Neither Political Party is coming clean so I guess that is a score draw also. 1 – 1
    So from today (if those vulnerable and had detriment to health and wealth already did not know) It is clear yes the Residents and in particular those most Vulnerable in our Borough. You know the ones that neither the party nor the Council seem to undertake equality impact assessments for. One has to wonder why? Hold on let me turn the other cheek as three are already stinging now!

    3. So it looks like the main factors in that debt are the Tories and Labour but the Tories have it by a nose with Tory with 4 to Labours 3
    One thing is clear when is comes to the piper it is the residents who pay and always the Vulnerable who pay three times – first their money until all their assets are gone – then their health as they are no longer able to pay and get dumped on with poor to rationed medical care poor food and unhealthy accommodation and finally with their life especially when dumped in care hones in a pandemic with Health costs cut and regulation and enforcement cuts to a comedy of non existence all in the public interest!

    Now let us be clear unless you have a spare million and relations that outlast you and re willing to personally care for you – everyone at some stage will be vulnerable.

    So exactly at what stage in the last decade of this shambles has anyone thought about those most vulnerable in our Borough?
    If I was Mr Cummings I would keep my mouth firmly shut about that as when it comes to this Borough neither party has any moral standing at all.

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