Croydon Council has removed a misleading reference to Universal Credit from some of its online material in its consultation over its axing of Council Tax Support. But according to one activist, the council’s misinformation about its planned multi-million-pound cuts will have undermined the consultation.
The council wants to save nearly £6million next year by reducing the number of people who qualify for its Council Tax Support, in a move which will affect 20,000 of the borough’s poorest households. The Labour-controlled council is introducing a form of means-testing to determine who will in future qualify for the benefit.
Council Tax Support is a discount provided by the council on people’s monthly Council Tax bill. Some households receive £29 per week discounts on their Council Tax.
One key falsehood that the council has promoted is that the proposed changes are aligned with Universal Credit criteria. But Universal Credit is a more generous system than the one proposed by Croydon Council for its Council Tax Support.
In practical terms, the eligibility threshold and the income banding system that the council is proposing mean that the changes will be far harsher than the criteria used to determine someone’s entitlement by Universal Credit.
The council’s false comparison with Universal Credit remains in the official report which went before the cabinet earlier this month. But, oh so quietly, the reference to UC has now been removed from the council’s consultation page on their website – in what appears to be a tacit admission that they were misleading the public over the severity of the cuts they are proposing.
Public rights activist Sophia Moreau spotted the sly change and suggests that the previously false information will undermine any remaining credibility that the council consultation might have.
“The Universal Credit lie was removed from the coverage on the website quietly earlier this month, but evidence remains in the cabinet papers,” Moreau said.
On Twitter, Moreau wrote, “A benefits cut consultation that uses misleading or false comparisons and wording is not one that can be considered reflective of public will. How can we have confidence that the results are informed?
“The mistruth may have been removed from the website, but no retraction, apology or correction has been issued. Residents are still filling this consultation in with a key inaccuracy in mind.
“And that’s without touching the complete calamity that has been made of equality here.”
Read more: Town Hall’s untrue claims about cuts to Council Tax Support
Read more: Cynical, hypocritical and devious: benefit cut to hit thousands
Read more: Further £38.4m to be sliced from next year’s council budget
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