A council consultation has begun to get the public’s response to plans to withdraw Council Tax Support from around 20,000 households in the borough, costing some as much as £29 per week in lost benefits.
You can just imagine the responses to the consultation question, “How do you fancy us taking, say, £1,000 off you next year, so that we can fix the finances of the borough we managed to bankrupt?”
The cuts to Council Tax Support won’t be much of a laughing matter for those who will be worst affected. Campaigners have warned that the Labour-run council’s cuts to the benefits will have “devastating consequences and plunge people impacted into deeper poverty”.
Next month will see the one-year anniversary of Croydon issuing a Section 114 notice, the formal procedure to announce that the council was bankrupt. The authority has since received a £120million bailout from the government, with strings attached such as the demand for wide-ranging cuts.
The Council Tax Support move is an attempt to save the cash-strapped council about £5.7million per year, part of its efforts to reduce its annual budget by £38.4million in 2022-2023.
Senior figures at the council, such as council deputy leader Stuart King, have determined to push through these benefit cuts, while at the same time campaigning against the government’s own benefit cuts, the removal of the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift.
In an announcement from the propaganda bunker at Fisher’s Folly, the council deviously dressed up this huge benefits cut as “plans to make its Council Tax Support scheme easier to apply for”.
The consultation will last six weeks, and can be accessed by visiting http://www.croydon.gov.uk/ctsconsultation. Once completed, the council will go ahead and implement the cuts anyway.
There is to be what the council calls “a briefing session” at the Town Hall next Tuesday, November 2.
The council says that its “new ‘income band’ approach… would prioritise support to households with the lowest incomes”.
The council says, “Anyone can take part in the consultation by filling in the online survey. The council is contacting all residents currently in receipt of Council Tax Support, either by email, SMS or letter, and will hold a briefing session for key stakeholders on the proposed changes at the Town Hall on November 2.
“Council officers will also be available to answer questions at a Talk Money Week event at Whitgift Square, Whitgift Centre, North End, Croydon from 10.30am-4.30pm on November 11 and 12.”
The council claims that under the proposed changes, eligible pensioners, care leavers under the age of 25 and disabled residents who are unable to work will not be affected.
But more than two-thirds of those who currently receive some level of discount on their Council Tax – which starts from around £3 per week – will lose that help from April next year, although there is to be what even the council describes as a “hardship fund”, for one year, it says, “to support residents who are affected by changes to the Council Tax Support scheme discount to adapt to the new system”.
Councillor King said, “Our Council Tax Support scheme hasn’t been updated since 2013, despite year-on-year cuts to government funding, and so we want to ensure we are targeting our resources to help those in greatest need.
“The new approach would prioritise support to households with the lowest income, while continuing to protect our most vulnerable residents – eligible pensioners, young care leavers, and disabled residents who are unable to work. It will also make it simpler for all residents to apply.
“It’s important we hear from everyone who may be affected before we make a final decision so I encourage residents to take part in our consultation.”
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