Saturday, 29 December 2012

Up Date on Council Tax Rise

Press Release
Parishes under pressure in Northumberland
Fears over local services
As part of the 2010 Spending Review the Government announced its intention to cut support for Council Tax from 2013-14 and to reduce expenditure on Council Tax benefit by 10%; they call it the Localisation of Benefit.
The scheme will be implemented by amending the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The new localised arrangements are central to delivering the Government’s commitment to reducing expenditure through cuts, increased devolution of services through Localism and reducing working benefits which both elements of the coalition Government believe will help to stimulate economic growth.
This Government will only be providing a grant to fund 90% of the council tax benefit liability so the localised schemes have to address how to cope with the 10% shortfall in funding.

Liberal led Northumberland County Council chose to simply implement the cuts calling it the national scheme. They believe this will provide local authorities with the opportunity to reform the system of support for working age claimants.
Figures released by the council show that the South East of the County will be hit hardest under Jeff Reid’s proposals (please see attached release).   

Northumberland Labour Group believes this will damage the ability of some Parish Councils particularly the new larger Parishes in the South East of the County to support its constituents as they have done since 2009.
Services such as assistance for Allotment Associations and staging local events may be damaged through this new regime.

The new scheme identifies those who claim Council Tax Benefit (many who are on low wage jobs) and removes them from the criteria for precept thereby lowering the number of homes eligible in the calculation.

Leader of Northumberland Labour Group said
‘This is yet another example of the ConDem government hitting local government and a local Liberal Democrat council sitting back and accepting it without a murmur. I'm very concerned that in smaller Parishes affected by the changes to Council Tax Benefit, claimants may be identifiable, changing a benefit into a millstone. This is yet another attack on low wage workers and their families who are striving to make their way in tough economic times. This County has many hundreds of people on minimum wage who have to claim benefit to support their families. The simple question for Jeff Reid and his Liberal council is ‘how will parishes deal with a 10% cut in their revenues without substantially increasing local taxes?’

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