Tom Blenkinsop MP today (16th October 2012) warned of the impending fiasco after it was revealed that residents on low-incomes will struggle to pay an average bill of £247 a year from next April due to council tax benefit changes – the same time millionaires get their tax cut.
Concerns over residents’ ability to pay this new charge have been raised when family incomes are already stretched to breaking point, and the running cost of enforcing collection of late payments – or other similar reasons – are simply uneconomical.
“This change has rightly been described as a new ‘poll tax’ that will hit people on low incomes the hardest. The whole situation encapsulates the Tory mind-set – the fairness of the plans is seriously questioned when you consider that these charges will come in at the same time millionaires are given a £40,000 tax cut.
“Even disregarding the morality of the decision, the workability of the changes is another area of concern. The collection rates of the current system are currently very high, yet councils will be expected to chase very small payments that, in many cases, will be less than the cost of the admin and legal fees incurred chasing up the collection. Hounding these payments from low income residents who may be in precarious financial positions already would be a terrible situation for anyone to fall in.
“This is a double blow for councils already struggling with enforced Westminster cuts and many will undoubtedly have concerns over how they can best cope with these changes. What is clear is that the tax cut for millionaires should not go ahead when those at the other end of the financial scale will be forced to pick up the tab.”