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Council tax benefit changes 'immoral'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

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CHANGES to council tax benefits which could hit 10,000 Torbay residents have been branded 'immoral, unfair and unethical'.

Former Conservative councillor Matt James, who is now independent, said every person aged 18 to 64 who claimed council tax benefit would have to pay some tax from next year.

He agreed with local councils having control over council tax benefits, but slammed the Government decision to cut by 10 per cent the money coming to Torbay for the benefits.

"Once pensioners are protected it leads to a 25 per cent cut in benefits for everyone else," he told the full council meeting.

"The poorest and most vulnerable members of the Bay will be the ones most affected by this Draconian policy.

"People on very low incomes, struggling to stay afloat, will have to fork out hundreds of pounds a year to pay council tax. As with the poll tax, many will be unable to do so and will likely refuse."

He added: "This is an immoral, unfair and unethical tax on our poorest residents. "

He urged the mayor to write to the Government to change course.

Cllr Jackie Stockman seconded the motion, saying: "Already the age group between 25 and 35 have had their benefits substantially reduced. Now another 2,000 people will be affected by council tax reforms."

Mayor Gordon Oliver pointed out that Torbay Council was facing cuts of up to £10million in its budget next year because of the economic crisis.

It has started consulting residents on the initial proposals.

He said: "For the first time I think there is a realisation how difficult the task is and the problems we are going to have, not only next year but the following year as well."

He said the Government had voted on the council tax reform.

"We have an enormous debt problem which we have to deal with. It is not going to be easy. We are facing a 10 per cent cut to help balance the books.

"This is just one of the challenges we face in the next few months. This is the beginning of two more years of extremely difficult times.

"The prediction for the future is when we get to 2015 there is another 35 per cent cut on local authority budgets.

"I think there has to be realism we have to try to make a balanced and sensible judgement and I don't believe writing a letter is going to make any difference at all. We have to look at how we can improve the economy so people have jobs."

The matter was discussed at a subsequent meeting of the overview and scrutiny board, which has no executive power but makes comments and recommendations which are debated at a later stage. The committee agreed to recommend to the mayor that a Hardship Fund be created, aimed at supporting those hardest hit .

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  • Treleaven1  |  October 16 2012, 10:12PM

    This kid should leave national matters to the MP's .... then again, he's one of them dual councillors ain't he and as we all know, THEY THINK THEY ARE MP'S! and as such take precious little interest in our locality. Do we really need Brixham Town Council any longer? Why not put it to public vote on Nov 15 when we have a town council by-election and the police commissioner election. Such a vote wouldn't be binding but it would cost hardly anything to have it and it would give us clear view on how the residents of Brixham feel about these clowns, eh, I mean councillors such Matthew - I can't make my mind up Mum - James, Mumbling Mike Morey and Jackie - Mrs Slocombe - Stockman.

  • cherrie54  |  October 13 2012, 4:18PM

    Point this young chap should understand the majority including pensioners pay council tax already. So getting those who don't want to work but choose a lifestyle of dole SHOULD PAY SOMETHING WHY NOT. I don't mean those just made unemployed but those who were way before this reccession. My advice to those complaining about thier benefits stop being choosy about the jobs get off your backside and work. That includes single mums who can't work because they can't get anyone to look after the kids.But always can find someone when they want to go out with friends enjoying themselves.

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  • SidneyNuff  |  October 13 2012, 10:45AM

    Sitting at home, taking drugs, drinking cheap strong lager, being a petty criminal and robbing old ladies doesn't make you 'The most vulnerable in society'. It is about time some of these criminal layabouts got of their backsides and comtributed to society and it is about time the liberal press grew up.

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  • realityzone  |  October 13 2012, 8:15AM

    So here is this turncoat grandstanding on a matter of National politics. Be better if he looked at what can be done by the Local council he is a member of

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