Brentwood Lib Dems vote against Localisation of Council Tax

August 7, 2012 10:06 AM

At last night's Policy & Resources Board (6/8/12) Lib Dem councillors voted against plans to introduce a Local Council Tax Support Scheme in Brentwood which has been forced on the Council by the Tory led coalition government.

Whilst Lib Dems believe in the principle that being in work should always be more attractive financially than being on benefit they do not feel the Government¡¦s policy on Council Tax benefit has been properly thought through and serious consideration given to its effect at a local level.

Lib Dem leader Cllr David Kendall said:

"Put simply this is localism in its crudest sense with a proposal that has been dumped on local government by central government and we are basically being told to get on with it with one arm tied behind our back.

"Most authorities around the UK are going to see a cut in their Council tax grant of 10% but Brentwood is going to be hit with a 16% cut. I asked what representations had been made to the Government regarding the size of Brentwood's cut and was met with a wall of silence by the administration.

Lib Dems welcome the fact that pensioners are going to be protected under any new scheme and will not see a cut in their benefit they are concerned that some Brentwood residents will face cuts of 32% in their council tax benefit . They also have concerns over the following issues:

  • There is no agreed definition in Government or elsewhere of what characteristics make an individual vulnerable and there is no guidance provided for designing local schemes. This could leave some Brentwood residents in a very difficult financial position and we believe that is wrong.
  • Brentwood Borough Council has failed to say what extra financial support they are going to give to the local CAB office to help them with the increased workload this policy will bring.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr David Kendall added:

"It is interesting to note that eight Tory councils around the country are fighting the Government plans on Council tax benefit policy but Tory controlled Brentwood is rolling over with its paws in the air and accepting it. We believe this policy being forced on us by the Government is flawed and should be completely reviewed before pushing ahead any further."