By STEVEN DOWNES
Mayor Jason Perry’s plans to raise a few bob extra by taking cash out of the purses of old age pensioners and the poorest in the borough got defeated in a Town Hall vote last week.
Today, after being given permission for an inflation-busting 15per cent hike in Council Tax from April, he was told in no uncertain terms that he must find a way of maintaining Council Tax Support for the most vulnerable in the borough.
Perry’s message came from Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, in a written statement to Parliament.
Part of Perry’s “masterplan” was to save less than a “Negrini” – £425,000 a year – by removing the inflation index-linking from the Council Tax benefit paid to those in greatest need.
But in a written statement to parliament today, Gove said, “Following significant failures in their local leadership, governance and financial management, the government received requests from Thurrock, Croydon and Slough for the flexibility to increase their Council Tax by an additional amount, to provide extra funding to support their financial recovery.
“This is on top of the significant additional support government has already granted through the Exceptional Financial Support process. Given the exceptional circumstances of these councils, including unprecedented financial deficits driven by poor decision-making in the past and the need for ongoing government intervention to drive their improvement and recovery, the government has decided not to oppose the requests.”
This appears to suggest that while Slough and Thurrock requested 10per cent increases, Perry went all Oliver Twist and asked for “More.”
Gove’s statement continued, “In line with their requests, Thurrock and Slough will be able to raise council tax by an additional 5per cent above referendum principles applied to other councils, and Croydon will be able to raise an additional 10per cent.
“The Government is of course conscious of the impact on local taxpayers, particularly those on low incomes, of having to foot part of the bill for their councils’ very significant failings.
“We have been clear to each of the councils that in implementing any additional increases, they should take steps to mitigate the impact on those least able to pay.”
Read more: Perry to preside over record-breaking 15% Council Tax hike
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A former school friend and fellow croydon res., reminded me today that large numbers of people who have rented privately, or who lived in social housing in the inner London boroughs are having to move (priced out) or are being rehoused by their social landlords into accommodation in the borough of Croydon.
He went on to make the point that these are not young urban professionals, by and large, but are the less well off, and that many of them need to access state benefits to a degree higher than the average, and — for various good reasons– have a greater need for help from Council services than most existing residents.
And that Croydon’s support from Central Government is, and has been for years, substantially less, per person, than that given to Inner london boroughs just a few miles up the main roads towards central London. Inner City needs, relocated to Croydon.
I think that this subject has been aired in Inside Croydon on several occasions in recent years.
It is high time for Croydon to benefit from a funding “Levelling up” to enable it to meet the needs of the new residents, as well as innovative activities like cutting the grass, picking up the leaves, sweeping and mending the roads, repairing schools, etcetera, and to reinstate funding to Council departments and voluntary sector bodies borough wide who support the elderly, the young, new parents, adult learning, libraries, playgrounds etc etc etc.
Over to you, Mr Gove?
Never going to happen. Central government have been told about this funding disparity for years. And ignored the problem because it was a Labour run Council and then (luckily for central government), the council issued a s114 and the rest, they say, is history.
It is a bit rich of Michael Gove to say that they should protect the less fortunate when his government has presided over the absolute bin fire of austerity. And, no doubt, he will be blaming Labour for the woes of councils like Croydon. Politics has no care for actual people.
You have got to be joking – I am a pensioner- I am not making any more money – You will have to take me to court to get it
Well, at least Mr Gove shares my view that it is the wrong time to cut Council Tax benefit.
I had the Labour party whip removed for voting against the foolish cut to benefit.
Both Labour and Conservative councillors have voted for such cuts at different times.
Enough is enough we are a hard working family not on benefits. The council tax services are not fit for purpose. They are not cutting the trees cleaning the streets attending to any of the things we are paying for.
Disgrace. Disgusting. Maybe if we all don’t pay it or move away