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Cornwall Council Cabinet pushes for minimum 25% council tax charge

By RWhitehouse  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council

Comments (5)

CORNWALL Council's leading Cabinet will tell full council next week that they must start charging every household a minimum of 25% council tax or vital services will be lost.

The Cabinet met this afternoon to debate again plans for council tax benefit - responsibility for which has been switched to local councils by the Government.

Residents on benefits and low wages can currently claim a maximum of 100% council tax benefit under the means tested scheme. However Cornwall Council has said that to retain the scheme in its current format would cost the authority an extra £4.2million a year.

Finance chiefs at County Hall suggested that a maximum of 75% council tax benefit should be allowed, meaning all households pay a minmum of 25%.

The recommendation was previously approved by the Cabinet but when it went before the full council it was thrown out. However, no alternative was agreed in its place.

As a result Cabinet again debated the issue on today, this time with a list of cuts which could be required should the existing scheme be retained - these included cutting budgets for the fire service, libraries, tourism and highways.

Opposition councillors have suggested that the list of suggested cuts was an example of "scaremongering'.

At the outset of today's meeting council leader Jim Currie said: "At least one member has said that we are trying to scare everybody. But we have made £120m of savings already and we have another £30m in front of us - so the situation is already pretty scary."

Cabinet members all spoke of their reluctance to support the decision to charge every household at least 25% but many said that the cuts which would be required to keep the current scheme were "unpalatable'.

Armand Toms said: "People have said that this will affect the most vulnerable people in Cornwall, but if we have to make these cuts they will affect services which are used by the most vulnerable in Cornwall."

He added: "I don't like this but I am going to do it as it has to be done."

Bert Biscoe also said he was reluctant to agree to the minimum 25% charge and said that if that option was followed through then the council should ensure that any baliff services employed by the council act responsibly on behalf of the council.

Many councillors highlighted that the council was being forced to pass on a Government cut onto local residents and spoke of the unfairness of the position that they found themselves in.

The Cabinet was told that the council was working with the Citizens' Advice Bureau to ensure that help and support was available to those who would be affected by the changes in council tax benefit and indicated that an extra £150,000 was being made available to help those in need.

The Cabinet agreed unanimously to support the scheme which would provide a maximum of 75% council tax benefit. The recommendation is set to go before full council when it meets next week.

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5 comments

  • mygodlesslife  |  January 24 2013, 12:13PM

    This decision has already been rejected by council at the full meeting on 15th January. I shall be contacting EVERY councillor to remind them what lies ahead for them on 2nd May should they vote for or abstain from voting to charge anything to the poorest people in the county to cover their council tax benefit. Those that think charging for benefits is a good idea should consider this analogy; if benefits are to be paid for, are you prepared to allow similar charges for Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Disability Benefit, Child Benefit, etc.? It wholly undermines the entire concept of Government support and the welfare state system that we claim to be a beacon of reason and British humanity to man across the globe. I have said it before, but it appears I must say it again; if my possession of apples is the key to keeping a roof over my head and I have no apples in my hand after paying my current bills, how many apples can the council take from me? For a bonus point, how many apples can the council take from me when - next year we are all looking at a 5% increase on council tax - and my ESA has been capped at 1% whilst inflation is double that? What do negative apples look like anyway? Whatever, I don't have any.

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  • Dantwo  |  January 23 2013, 8:51PM

    They could easily make the necessary savings by making people pay a lot more for planning permission. Everywhere I look I see what looks like unlawful development taking place and nothing is done about it even when it's reported. What used to be called 'enforcement' has ceased to exist or is so run down that it may as well not exist. Start charging for all the unlawful development, no more of this turning a blind eye or 'not expedient' to pursue. These are hard times so stop punishing those who find themselves, through no fault of their own in the majority of cases, unemployed.

    |   2
  • simbasdad1  |  January 23 2013, 7:42PM

    why is the ceo paid so much? why do they need to award themselves 20% payrise? why do they outsource services to the leeches of capita ? why did cornwall become a unitary authority? how much have they paid consultants this year? what is the relationship between the consultants and individual council officers?.....just asking

    |   9
  • yveyk  |  January 23 2013, 7:06PM

    In order to balance the budget, increase the council tax for those not having their first home in Cornwall by 100% to cover the cost of the empty building and the extra resourses needed by police etc to guard and check these buidings. Make them all have planning permission to change of use to business premises if they are letting them. Cornwall Council needs to audit its staff and actually find out if there are major savings to be made and KPIs set to assess them. Stop all the inefficiencies in County Hall and the satalite offices. Lets see the books for Cormac as they seem to be a law unto themselves. They have just repaired the A388 between Callington and Launceston - really, there are as many pot holes now as there were before they started - and they closed the road for several nights. Maybe they should do this in daylight and they'd be able to see them. Finally taking bigger bribes for the community from commercial enterprises, or shouldn't I have said that!

    |   7
  • willythefish  |  January 23 2013, 4:59PM

    This attack on the poorest households in Cornwall is being made by people who have recently awarded themselves a 20% pay rise out of OUR money. I will not be voting for any serving councillor at the next election.

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