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Jobless may be forced to pay council tax bills

By West Briton  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

Comments (1)

CORNWALL Council may force the unemployed to pay council tax.

Members of the Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance campaign group and Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) fear the move would drive people further into debt and even facing prison.

As a result of the Government devolving responsibility for council tax benefit to local authorities, Cornwall Council is consulting on its preferred option that recipients of working age pay at least 30 per cent of their council tax bill.

In Truro, for example, 30 per cent of a band D property charge would be £464, in Camborne £437 and in Perranzabuloe £433.

Jim McKenzie, from CAB Cornwall, said 47 per cent of council tax benefit recipients were of working age.

He said: "If you get into arrears of two months you are at risk of the council seeking a liability order at a magistrates' court. If you then fail to pay they could send in the bailiffs.

"The issue is how they treat people who can't afford to pay and yet are expected to pay. By the end of 2013 we'll start to see real effects of this policy and an increase in bailiff action and people potentially threatened with prison unless it reviews its method of enforcement."

Chris Gibson, from Anti-Cuts Alliance, said: "I just don't know where the money is going to come from.

"If they wanted to make more money why don't they target those who can afford to pay a little more instead of hitting those struggling at the bottom?"

The council is seeking people's views on its proposals by November 12 for the new scheme to be introduced in January.

Also being considered is abolishing back-payments and calculating a claimant's support living in a band E, F, G or H property at band D, leaving them to pay the difference.

Councillor Steve Double, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for environment, waste management policy and shared services, said: "We appreciate this is unwelcome news. We have to find the fairest way to deal with the situation handed to us by the Government which will leave a £6 million black hole in the benefit budget.

"We want as many people as possible to give us their views on how we manage a situation which is not of this council's making."

For further information visit www.cornwall.gov.uk or call 0300 1234121.

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  • rumpppty  |  June 14 2013, 2:13AM

    Look and learn folks how the poor are crucified in order the elite go unpunished and continue to create more poor and feed off their misery in order they prosper. Then they engineer our minds with thier lying propoganda to pit us agin one another in order they can continue to pick our pockets like thieves in the night. Coffee smelling time methinks don`t you know !! Those who benefit and are societys parasites are not the drop in the ocean statistically those that are called feckless, spongers etc, who we fall for the demonising diversery propoganda that is spewed out . The parasites wear suits and have lovely PR, very smiley, very upright staunch VAT, Income tax, charity donation offsets,overseas investments bonuses for failure, recievers of subsidies out of tax payer revenue. The list is endless,convoluted and government complicit, as corporate lackeys. Our country is based on fraud, theft and corruption to it`s very core and you the people are paying the price and will pay futher as the eventual collapse of our country and it`s economy draws to an inevitable conclusion. In the meantime we will continue and believe things are going to get better, that illusion will and is being contrived by insuring indeed some will do better by design and will be engineered as they are to cover their backsides of their interests and reiforce the power of a government that anexxes their mind and manipulates it to its own end. 1984 perhaps ?

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  • osscat  |  October 02 2012, 10:22PM

    To Quote kingofkernow - " I propose that you do not charge the unemployed for Council Tax but you cut the benefits for those that dont want to work. They are easy to spot as they are normally waddling about Asda with their kids on a school day before they pile into their free Motability car and head off to a carboot somewhere. By the way, since when did being fat and lazy be a disablity ?" It is a common misconception that what Kingofkernow described as a 'Free Mobility Car' is actually free. In fact it is not free, the scheme offers a car for lease to a person in exchange for the medically assessed Disability Allowance (DLA) of £54.05 per week. There are rigorous tests to establish eligibility for the allowance which can be given for a limited timescale, to allow recovery from an illness or temporary disability affecting mobility, or for an indefinite period for those with a serious long term disability. Also eligible are those in receipt of War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement (WPMS) currently £60.40 per week. Information regarding the mobility car scheme can be found on their website which explains eligibility in detail. It is unfortunate that such ill informed inaccuracies are allowed to pass as fact and a sad reflection on our county that this type of bilious attack should come from someone calling themselves King of Cornwall.

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  • mygodlesslife  |  September 29 2012, 7:23PM

    Cornwall Council has had its budget for Council Tax Benefit reduced by some $6 million. As they should do, they have started a consultation into how this deficit can be resolved. The preferred option is to "that all working age recipients of council tax benefit should pay an additional 30% contribution towards their council tax i.e. receive less support than the previous council tax benefit scheme, in order to make the new scheme affordable" This hits the poorest people in the county the hardest. I have some alternative solutions: 1. Enforce payment of arrears from those that do not receive Council Tax Benefit. I have written to Cornwall Council requesting the amount of unpaid arrears is. It will be interesting to see how much money that would save. 2. Abolish the 10% discount given to people with second homes/holiday lets. If you can afford a second home, you can afford to pay the full amount, and if a property is being run as a holiday let then it will encourage owners to have the property occupied year round rather than sitting idle. 3. Reduce the 'capital limit' from the current £16,000 to £11,280 allowed under current ISA savings limits. I don't know how many people this would affect, but I think it is a fairer amount than the arbitrary amount that stands today. 4. Limit entitlement to a maximum of council tax band D preventing people who live in houses in a higher council tax band from claiming a higher benefit. This is actually one of the council's own proposals as set out under option 3. I support this proposal with one proviso: that families that are unable to find suitable accommodation in sub-band E properties are exempted. 5. Raise the amount on higher value properties (bands E - H). Band A properties have a nominal value under £40,000, whereas band H properties are over £320,000. This 8-fold value strategy is not reflected in the amount paid in Council Tax. In fact, Band H properties pay less than 2.5 times the amount of a band A property. I do not suggest that Band H properties should pay eight times the amount of a band A property, just that the current dynamic could be tweaked to protect those that cannot afford Council Tax Benefit by charging more for those that can. I am confident that if these proposals were adopted, Cornwall Council would be more than capable of meeting the £6 million shortfall they face without having to lay the bill at those most seriously affected by their own proposals. If you would like Cornwall Council to know your own thoughts on the matter, please complete their consultation questionnaire and write to your MP and local paper's editor as I have done. They are actively asking you to 'Help [them] design a scheme for Cornwall'. Click on the 'Consultation Survey' at the bottom of the linked page to do just that. http://tinyurl.com/d338ykl

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  • Big_Ger  |  September 29 2012, 9:23AM

    Jobless may be forced to pay council tax bills? Ha! We all know who'll be picking up the tab, Joe taxpayer.

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  • kingofkernow  |  September 29 2012, 8:18AM

    Are you from Bodmin kimmyp ? I am a Bodmin person and the town is rife with workshy beneft scroungers. Your coment about your neighbour i happening all over the town ! There is work in the Bodmin area as you have only have to look to the hundreds of East Europeans living and working in Bodmin. These people are also on the whole law abiding and have self respect as well as respect for others. I propose that you do not charge the unemployed for Council Tax but you cut the benefits for those that dont want to work. They are easy to spot as they are normally waddling about Asda with their kids on a school day before they pile into their free Motability car and head off to a carboot somewhere. By the way, since when did being fat and lazy be a disablity ?

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  • josdave  |  September 29 2012, 7:49AM

    Same old same old. The country is in financial trouble due to the irresponsible bankers gambling unsuccessfully with OUR money and who gets to do the digging out? Not the bankers who are the cause of it but those least able to shoulder the burden. As for the example quoted by Kimmy it's the system that is at fault. If it worked properly those in need would get it and those who clearly don't want to work would not but it is never going to work properly so there is no need to punish the genuine claimants because of the minority of scroungers.

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  • osscat  |  September 29 2012, 12:34AM

    The phrase "Its like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas" comes to mind.

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  • Phil_lip  |  September 27 2012, 10:14PM

    Does anyone know exactly how many second homes are in Cornwall, I know some villages have hardly anyone living in them but does anyone have an actual figure because it is something that should be requested as an FOI yet without the time till the public consultation ends excuses could be made for not releasing it on time. If anyone from the paper reads these comments maybe they could do it, as papers do seem to get preferential treatment when it comes to FOIs.

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  • stevegeek  |  September 27 2012, 6:54PM

    First, this is targeting the helpless! Someone who is skint will probbably not know there is a survey or be able to take part. Second, how much will they spend in chasing people who cannot pay to find out that they have no money? This will just bring unwarranted stress and worry upon honest people who are down on thier luck, the dishonest wont pay anyrate no matter how many rules are made - don't expect an unreasonable person to be reasonable! Maybe proper policing of top council earners expenses and a reduction in top earners pay would save money - the top council executives are living off all our backs - not the jobless.

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  • Taxman100  |  September 27 2012, 5:27PM

    Doitdreckly. You also make a number of valid points. We should however take a closer look at the Coalition Government's policies. Nowhere does it state that councils should consider charging the unemployed etc a percentage of Council Tax. What it does say is that Council's must reduce their spending, and the grant each council receives from Central Government will be reduced accordingly. I am sure the Council can reduce its spending commitments without damaging front-line services, or charging the unemployed Council Tax. It could start by looking at the amount paid to Councillors, most particularly those within the 'Cabinet', and by reducing the amount paid to 'consultants'; many of whom are in reality those who have been recently retired from council employment!

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