‘Dangerous’ benefit cuts will hit women, disabled and children

CROYDON COMMENTARY: A fixed and badly flawed consultation has been used to justify ‘Dickensian’ cuts to Council Tax Support, which will affect 20,000 households across the borough from April.
SOPHIA MOREAU (pictured left) outlines who will suffer the worst as a result of the new measures

I’m troubled by the Council Tax reforms set for approval by Croydon Council at a Town Hall meeting on January 24.

The discriminatory effects of these planned cuts to Council Tax Support were preventable. The council didn’t reach out to organisations representing those with protected characteristics. The council’s head of payments, revenue and benefits committed to sharing the equality impact analysis when asked in November 2021. But then didn’t.

The consultation used to justify the benefit cuts had a questionnaire that used manipulative, leading questions. Asking people if they support the continued protection of vulnerable groups is completely different from asking whether they support the cuts.

So much for consultation. Many of us spent time meeting council officers and outlining the faults in the formula proposed for the cuts. Those faults harm vulnerable groups.

Benefit cuts: carers will be among those who will lose Council Tax Support under Croydon’s plans

Let’s see who is sacrificed:

Disabled children: Only households with adult disabled people out of work have been considered. Croydon Council Tax reforms make no mention of disabled children or those with special educational needs. This gap is potentially unlawful

This is dangerous.

Councils use precedents from other areas to justify their decisions. Croydon was inspired by Sutton, though what is proposed here is worse than in Sutton, and the cuts are more severe than other boroughs.

Carers: It’s illogical that carers’ allowance is exempt, while carers element of Universal Credit is not. Both benefits use the same criteria. UC deducts 100 per cent of carers’ allowance – meaning carers element is the only option… Surely the council should know how benefits work?

In practice, this means that #carers in receipt of Universal Credit are further disadvantaged compared to carers solely on carers’ allowance and will end up paying more Council Tax as a result. It’s nonsensical.

Single parents with children aged five and older: Does the struggle end when their child turns five? These reforms view single parents the same as other adults, limiting access to Council Tax discount. This overwhelmingly harms women-led households.

Disabled people: You could be “registered disabled” and systemically excluded from accessing Croydon Council Tax Support, due to working. Yet these reforms claim to “make work pay”. Working doesn’t make you “less disabled”. This is Dickensian-style discrimination.

And it gets worse. Under the proposed changes for Council Tax Support, the disabled child element of Universal Credit, and more broadly the benefits families with disabled children receive, will not be exempt from the new formula, only the housing element, showing again what a poorly conceived, rushed policy this is.

It is incredibly misleading to say, as the council has done in publishing the outcome of its “consultation”, that 80 per cent of residents in Croydon support the Council Tax Support change proposals, when the questions in the survey were manipulative, conceptual and vague.

What is proposed is Dickensian, discriminatory and dangerous.

Read more: Cynical, hypocritical and devious: benefit cut to hit thousands
Read more: Labour council benefit cuts will hit 20,000 ‘horrendously’

Croydon Commentary is a platform for all our readers to offer their personal views about what matters to them in and around the borough. To submit an article for publication, just email us at inside.croydon@btinternet.com, or post your comment to an Inside Croydon article that has caught your attention

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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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