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Fears for poor households after Cornwall Council Cabinet agrees to end 100% council tax benefit

By RWhitehouse  |  Posted: December 12, 2012

Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council

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FEARS have been raised that poor and vulnerable households in Cornwall will be placed under severe financial pressure after Cornwall Council's Cabinet agreed that every household should pay at least 25% of their council tax bills.

The new charges are set to be introduced in April in response to the Government shifting the responsibility for council tax benefit onto local councils.

Council tax benefit currently allows families and individuals on low income claim for help with their council tax bills up to a maximum of 100%.

However Cornwall Council's finance officers said that continuing the scheme in its current form could cost the council more than £4m.

Initially officers had said that households should be forced to pay at least 30% of their bills, but that has been reduced to 25%.

But some councillors warned that the plans would place severe financial pressure on families and vulnerable people and create hardship.

Liberal Democrat councillor Alex Folkes told the Cabinet at its meeting this morning: "There is a chance that poorer families could be forced out of their homes as a result of this."

He added: "This benefit is not like winter fuel allowance or free TV licences which are universally available to those who qualify – you can only claim for it if you absolutely need to.

"We could have an endless cycle of this council chasing people for money that they haven't got."

He continued: "This measure will impact significantly on the poor people of Cornwall. I would ask the Cabinet whether it is right that we force people into the arms of the foodbank?"

Mr Folkes suggested that money raised by a council decision to scrap council tax discount for second homeowners and other council tax changes should be used to fund the council tax benefit scheme to remain as it is.

However finance officer Cath Robinson told the Cabinet that the income which was expected from second homeowners had already been allocated in the budget and if it was used to fund the council tax benefit scheme there could be a need to cut services.

The Cabinet said that the decision to shift responsibility for the benefit onto councils had forced them into making a difficult decision but said that they had to "balance the budget".

Cabinet member Bert Biscoe asked that the council monitor the impact of the benefit changes and other welfare reforms being made by the Government and provide updates to the Government to indicate the effect they have on people in Cornwall.

Cabinet member Fiona Ferguson also said it was important that the council offer advice and help for those people who are affected by the changes.

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  • rags_n_bones  |  December 20 2012, 3:05PM

    LATEST....................NEWS.......................'Obscene' changes coming to council tax payments.... http://tinyurl.com/dxfolj7 FEARS have been raised that poor and vulnerable people will be under severe financial pressure after Cornwall Council's Cabinet agreed every household should pay council tax. The new 25 per cent minimum charges will be introduced in April in response to the Government shifting the responsibility for council tax benefit onto local councils. The system currently allows low-income families and individuals to claim up to 100 per cent off their council tax bills. However Cornwall Council's finance officers said continuing this could cost the council more than £4 million. But some councillors warned of severe financial pressure and hardship for families and vulnerable people. Liberal Democrat Councillor Alex Folkes told the Cabinet last week: "There is a chance that poorer families could be forced out of their homes as a result of this. We could have an endless cycle of this council chasing people for money that they haven't got. This measure will impact significantly on the poor people of Cornwall. "I would ask the Cabinet whether it is right that we force people into the arms of the foodbank?" Secretary of State Eric Pickles said it was "obscene" and is considering using his powers to prevent the move.

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  • Doitdreckley  |  December 17 2012, 8:44PM

    The cuts that Roger suggests (for example the salaries of those earning over £50,000 in the Council) - how much would that yield? What he suggests would not yield enough to plug the governments funding gap. I agree with H Trevorow that people who work should always be better off than those on benefits. That is why there should be a living wage and bad employers should not be subsidised through the taxpayer having to pay for benefits.

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  • rags_n_bones  |  December 17 2012, 12:44PM

    Duchy of Cornwall denies 'tax avoidance' scam...... http://tinyurl.com/cvu4hbq A spokesman said: "The Prince voluntarily pays income tax on income generated by the Duchy, so there is no legal requirement to pay corporation tax and to do so would result in double taxation." Clarence House yesterday defended the Prince of Wales' financial arrangements after he was reported to authorities over claims the Duchy of Cornwall is a "well entrenched tax avoidance scheme". "The Duchy is simply a cash cow for the prince and the prince is clearly set on minimising his tax contributions." Oh so the royal's can get away with out double taxation and keep the cash cow but the poor in duchy Cornwall keep on getting screwed.

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  • rags_n_bones  |  December 16 2012, 11:35PM

    Problem Sorted..... As Cameron and that "CONVICTED ARSONIST" Nick Clegg, http://tinyurl.com/bnmh85d do not want to help the poor of this country as they just want to "screw us" further into the ground, instead of taxing us why don't they round us all up and gas us like they did to their enemy's in the war. The best place to find the UB40 gang is at closing time in those big out of town shopping sheds next to the reduced shopping isle waiting for everything to be reduced. Easy pickings for the "GESTAPO"

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  • rags_n_bones  |  December 15 2012, 12:38AM

    Council Tax Benefit change 'to create poll tax Mk II' The peer who designed what became known as the "poll tax" in the 1980s has warned that Council Tax Benefit cuts risk creating a "poll tax Mark 2". http://tinyurl.com/9cuobgf

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  • rags_n_bones  |  December 14 2012, 4:35PM

    roger_angove Those 'own resources' are OUR taxes. Cornwall Council have no resources of their own, only that which is taken from us under thereat (ultimately) of imprisonment. Well said Roger....

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  • Jezza999  |  December 14 2012, 10:53AM

    Why not tax the Duchy (i.e. Charles' unearned personal income from Cornwall) If 'we are all in this together' then the well heeled non-workers like Charles should contribute to Cornwall not take cash and resources out. It would make more sense and be more just than penalising the poor.

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  • roger_angove  |  December 14 2012, 9:47AM

    I wonder why this story has been allowed to 'fall off the bottom of the page'. Anything to do with the level of advertising revenue that TIC receives from 'our' Council?

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  • roger_angove  |  December 14 2012, 9:17AM

    It is interesting to note the options considered by the Council. The full text is here: http://tinyurl.com/d6w5jrn The key section though is, in my opinion, option 1 "Do nothing" In their own words: ".... the Council would have to top up the amount available for council tax benefits from its own resources by cutting front line services or increasing the level of council tax everyone pays by a significant amount." Those 'own resources' are OUR taxes. Cornwall Council have no resources of their own, only that which is taken from us under thereat (ultimately) of imprisonment. Note the only option that they even considered was cutting front line services or increasing taxes. No mention of other possible economies such as: Cutting their own pay, perks and expenses. Removing multiple layers of overpaid and underworked 'managers' Why not, for example, freeze councillors' own pay? Why not, for example, introduce a wage cut for 'managers' who are paid over (say) £50k a year? Why not reduce expenditure on the oak panelled silver service restaurant next to the Council chamber - all they need is a works canteen like the one that is provided for the staff at County Hall. Why not reduce the number of Councillors - the spineless self serving little twerp who 'represents' me is no more than a pompous waste of space who is in several business' back pockets. Just a few thoughts. I expect others can add to the list.

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  • JJLee  |  December 14 2012, 7:44AM

    Doitdreckley "Some on here (JJ Lee, Roger Angove) continue to blame 'the Council' NO I accused them of double standards when they awarded themselves a 20% pay rise and along with the BT decision are not representing the best needs of Cornwall. Self-serving, just for clarity - This is a tendency to take credit for success (self-enhancing bias) and deny any responsibility for failure. More the later IMHO

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