COUNCILLORS have warned that changes to council tax benefit for Bridlington residents could be harmful to the local economy.
Because of Government funding cuts, East Riding of Yorkshire Council will change the way it supports those who are on a low income – meaning that everyone of working age will have to pay something towards their council tax.
Coun Shelagh Finlay, of Bridlington South Ward, said she was “disappointed” by the move and warned that nearly 25% of town households will be affected, which has the potential to take money out of local businesses and services.
She added: “The reduction will mean that all people of working age on low incomes will have to pay 25% of their council tax.
“This will mean hardship for families and a substantial loss of income for the economy and businesses in Bridlington, as Bridlington has a high percentage of low-income families compared with other parts of the East Riding.”
The council’s Government funding will fall by £2.2 million, leaving it to decide whether to reduce support offered to working-age residents or find the savings from other services.
The new scheme means that no- one of working age will receive 100% support towards council tax.
Coun Ray Allerston, who represents the Central and Old Town Ward on East Riding Council, said that the move is “taking us back to the days of Thatcher”.
He continued: “It is a tax on the poor. It is not just people who are out of work but those who are working hard on a low income.
“The Government isn’t hurting the millionaires – they’ve had their tax rate reduced.
“The poor will really struggle as taking £2 million out of people’s pockets is a very big amount, especially in Bridlington South Ward, which is one of the most deprived places in the East Riding. People can barely pay for food and heating as it is and it will have a huge effect. I don’t agree with it at all.”
The changes were agreed at a full council meeting on January 9 and will come into effect from April 1.
Coun Stephen Parnaby OBE, leader of the council, said: “The council has to make difficult decisions to reduce the amount of help people can have towards their council tax bills.
“Even after limiting the amount of help that working-age residents can receive up to 75 per cent of the council tax bill, the council will still have to find £1.2 million to fund the scheme. I must stress that the changes to council tax benefit are entirely the result of Government policy and not anything decided locally by this council.”
The East Riding’s 15,500 pensioners are exempt from the changes and will not see any reduction in their entitlement.
All taxpayers will be automatically transferred on to the new scheme from April 1 and will receive notification letters and council tax bills in March showing how much they will have to pay.
Affected residents can visit the local council customer service centre at Bridlington Town Hall, call 01482 394799 or visit www.eastriding.gov.uk for more information.
The council’s benefit advice team will be in Bridlington on Wednesday, January 30, from 10am to noon at the Community Resource Centre on Victoria Road, and on Tuesday, February 12, at the sports hall on Gypsey Road. You can also contact the team on 0800 915 0381 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
l Will the changes to council tax benefit affect you?
Will you struggle to find the extra money?
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