Plan to make poorest pay takes step forward

Making the poorest people in Cornwall pay to fill a council tax black hole has taken a step closer.

Cornwall Council's cabinet voted to make everyone of working age pay 25 per cent of their Council Tax if they are in receipt of the Council Tax Benefit. This means, on a Band D the occupants will be asked to pay around £274 pounds.

A press release from the authority said the cabinet members "reluctantly reconfirmed their support for the recommendation".

They have proposed setting up a £1m safety net to provide support for people in the greatest need and in an admission of the financial pain the decision will cause for the poorest people in Cornwall, that an additional £150,000 should be given to the Citizens Advice Bureaux to enable them to provide information and advice to people affected by the new scheme.

The Government announced last year that local authorities would be required to create their own localised council tax support schemes as part of the changes to the national benefits system.The council says Cornwall faces a shortfall of £4.2 million at a time of reducing budgets if it does not make changes to the existing scheme.

A council spokesman said: "Members of the cabinet originally endorsed the recommendation to reduce the maximum level of council tax support available to working age people from 100 per cent to 75 per cent in December. However, following last week’s vote by full Council to defer making a decision on adopting a localised council tax scheme, officers were asked to bring a report identifying potential options for additional savings to fund any change to the recommended scheme to yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

The council claimed that these potential savings included a number of frontline services, including tourism, libraries, leisure centres, subsidised transport for post 16 students and community safety.

Council Leader Jim Currie said: “We said previously that it was inappropriate to ask local taxpayers to subsidise the national welfare system. This remains our view.

“The stark truth is that using council tax payers’ money to maintain the current level of council tax support would mean cutting frontline services for people in Cornwall.  This is not scaremongering – this is being honest with the people of Cornwall.  The list of potential savings are real choices we will have to make and we will have to get used to making these decisions because this is the future. ”

Around 53, 815 people in Cornwall currently claim council tax benefit. Under the current means tested scheme people can claim up to 100% of council tax benefit. As the Government has said that pensioners must be protected from a reduction in benefit, any change will affect around 26,729 working age people. 

Local authorities are required to introduce their new scheme by January 31.  Any councils which fail to have a new scheme in place by this time will have the Government’s default scheme imposed on them. 

Saying a list of high profile services that the council said would have to be cut, was used to ‘scare’ councillors, Cllr Andrew Wallis, (Helston south and Porthleven), added: "During the very short debate, we had each cabinet member in turn saying they do not agree with the proposals, but with a sigh, will vote for them. A North Korean show trial would have been proud if they witnessed today’s proceedings. Granted it is a difficult task, but there are other options."

Deputy leader of the Lib Dems on the council, Alex Folkes called the list of cuts, "scare-mongering of the worst sort".

Adding: "These are not the areas that would really be hit if the council was required to make additional savings. They are merely the straw men being set up to justify a wholly unpalatable decision. And there are many other areas of discretionary spending which have not been listed.

"This council does not have to spend more than a million pounds a month on consultants and agency staff - but they do. This council did not have to give £50,000 to Plymouth to support its world cup bid nor hire taxis to ferry tea and coffee between offices - but they did."

Councillors have also just voted to increase their own allowances.

The recommendation will go to full council next Tuesday.

Comments (19)

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10:11am Thu 24 Jan 13

Gill Zella Martin 09 says...

How will this work, because anyone on benefits recieves paperwork that states that 'the government says you need x amount to live on', state benefits will be the same in every county and yet Cornish residents will be made to pay council tax out of theirs. Therefore compared with residents of other counties how will benefit claimants in Cornwall have that x amount of money that they need to live on that the government states they have to?

I have always been intrigued as to why the government say that council tax benefit claimants need x amount to live on and yet they also say pensioners need x amount to live on, which is a higher amount than council tax benefit claimants. Apart from heating costs maybe for which a fuel allowance is given, why is it presumed cheaper for a council tax benefit claimant to survive than a pensioner?
Before anyone suggests I am anti pensioners, I am the sole unpaid carer for my elderly mother and I do not claim benefits so this is not a biased opinion.
I also wonder why council tax benefit is called a benefit because it is not classed as a benefit if one is claiming it alone and then tries to obtain free prescriptions, one is then told it is not a benefit because it is not paid to one in cash like other benefits are. Therefore why don't they re name it council tax discount.
How will this work, because anyone on benefits recieves paperwork that states that 'the government says you need x amount to live on', state benefits will be the same in every county and yet Cornish residents will be made to pay council tax out of theirs. Therefore compared with residents of other counties how will benefit claimants in Cornwall have that x amount of money that they need to live on that the government states they have to? I have always been intrigued as to why the government say that council tax benefit claimants need x amount to live on and yet they also say pensioners need x amount to live on, which is a higher amount than council tax benefit claimants. Apart from heating costs maybe for which a fuel allowance is given, why is it presumed cheaper for a council tax benefit claimant to survive than a pensioner? Before anyone suggests I am anti pensioners, I am the sole unpaid carer for my elderly mother and I do not claim benefits so this is not a biased opinion. I also wonder why council tax benefit is called a benefit because it is not classed as a benefit if one is claiming it alone and then tries to obtain free prescriptions, one is then told it is not a benefit because it is not paid to one in cash like other benefits are. Therefore why don't they re name it council tax discount. Gill Zella Martin 09
  • Score: 0

10:52am Thu 24 Jan 13

Toffer99 says...

"Councillors have also just voted to massively boost their own allowances."
Well of course they have, the b______s!
"Councillors have also just voted to massively boost their own allowances." Well of course they have, the b______s! Toffer99
  • Score: 0

11:02am Thu 24 Jan 13

falmouthbred says...

Do away with all those that voted for the massive increase in allowances.
How can they vote to increase the council tax and vote themselves a pay rise.
Do away with all those that voted for the massive increase in allowances. How can they vote to increase the council tax and vote themselves a pay rise. falmouthbred
  • Score: 0

11:04am Thu 24 Jan 13

falmouthbred says...

All the local areas councilors are useless.
All the local areas councilors are useless. falmouthbred
  • Score: 0

11:09am Thu 24 Jan 13

Gill Zella Martin 09 says...

I can see you've been to charm school falmouthbred. My understanding of doing away with people is illegal.

No not all local 'areas' Councillors are useless.
I can see you've been to charm school falmouthbred. My understanding of doing away with people is illegal. No not all local 'areas' Councillors are useless. Gill Zella Martin 09
  • Score: 0

11:20am Thu 24 Jan 13

ronedgcumbe says...

I am appalled by this unworkable decision that will bring misery and fear to the poorest. Do councilors understand what means tested benefits even mean.
I am appalled by this unworkable decision that will bring misery and fear to the poorest. Do councilors understand what means tested benefits even mean. ronedgcumbe
  • Score: 0

12:19pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Wave says...

Healthy old people not in work are protected, younger people who are ill and unable to work are unprotected.
Does not make sense.
As well as being unfair it's legality is questionable when those on benefits are on the absolute minimum required by law in order to survive in this country.
If the council takes more money, that same amount will have to be given back again to provide the minimum liveable income.
Every citizen on benefits in Cornwall will and should be requesting emergency payments when the change happens. With the extra admin it will consume to process the council will be worse off than before. If they do not allocate enough emergency budget funds and peoples' well being deteriorates then the government will be asking if the council is fit for purpose.
Healthy old people not in work are protected, younger people who are ill and unable to work are unprotected. Does not make sense. As well as being unfair it's legality is questionable when those on benefits are on the absolute minimum required by law in order to survive in this country. If the council takes more money, that same amount will have to be given back again to provide the minimum liveable income. Every citizen on benefits in Cornwall will and should be requesting emergency payments when the change happens. With the extra admin it will consume to process the council will be worse off than before. If they do not allocate enough emergency budget funds and peoples' well being deteriorates then the government will be asking if the council is fit for purpose. Wave
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Thu 24 Jan 13

ronedgcumbe says...

I though the counties motto was one and all not poor pay more.
I though the counties motto was one and all not poor pay more. ronedgcumbe
  • Score: 0

2:44pm Thu 24 Jan 13

falmouthbred says...

GZM i didnt mean do away with them i meant dont vote for them again.
If you think there are any councilors in the local areas that are not useless then name them because i cant find any.
GZM i didnt mean do away with them i meant dont vote for them again. If you think there are any councilors in the local areas that are not useless then name them because i cant find any. falmouthbred
  • Score: 0

3:37pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Gill Zella Martin 09 says...

falmouthbred wrote:
GZM i didnt mean do away with them i meant dont vote for them again.
If you think there are any councilors in the local areas that are not useless then name them because i cant find any.
No Councillor is useless, every person has qualities.
I am not prepared to name Councillors individually in local areas but judging by your user name you live in Falmouth, there are some good Councillors in Falmouth, Camborne, Helston, Porthleven and the Lizard. That's about as local as what really affects me personally.
[quote][p][bold]falmouthbred[/bold] wrote: GZM i didnt mean do away with them i meant dont vote for them again. If you think there are any councilors in the local areas that are not useless then name them because i cant find any.[/p][/quote]No Councillor is useless, every person has qualities. I am not prepared to name Councillors individually in local areas but judging by your user name you live in Falmouth, there are some good Councillors in Falmouth, Camborne, Helston, Porthleven and the Lizard. That's about as local as what really affects me personally. Gill Zella Martin 09
  • Score: 0

10:02am Fri 25 Jan 13

Poldark says...

Eric Pickles was right how can these, these self serving councillors who have squandered so much of our money on self serving issues look the public in the eye, .
Again I say a 4k raise in
allowances for next year was voted in that means 66 councillors x 4k , what an example di and I agree they are men of straw following the leader, voters need to find out which way your councillor voted and then make your decision next year.

,
Eric Pickles was right how can these, these self serving councillors who have squandered so much of our money on self serving issues look the public in the eye, [thank goodness the groundswell from the public stopped this stadium busines s]. Again I say a 4k raise in allowances for next year was voted in that means 66 councillors x 4k [ no I am wrong Mr Eva will not be taking his make that 65 councillors] , what an example di and I agree they are men of straw following the leader, voters need to find out which way your councillor voted and then make your decision next year. , Poldark
  • Score: 0

11:08am Fri 25 Jan 13

ronedgcumbe says...

Poldark wrote:
Eric Pickles was right how can these, these self serving councillors who have squandered so much of our money on self serving issues look the public in the eye, .
Again I say a 4k raise in
allowances for next year was voted in that means 66 councillors x 4k , what an example di and I agree they are men of straw following the leader, voters need to find out which way your councillor voted and then make your decision next year.

,
I always thout there was over a 100 councillors but I agree with our statement making the poorest pay for your increase is a disgrace. In the unlikely event that I am ellected in may I shall be giving my increase straight back to the people it should have gone to in the first place.
We have a failed council. A shame we still have 3 months until elections.
[quote][p][bold]Poldark[/bold] wrote: Eric Pickles was right how can these, these self serving councillors who have squandered so much of our money on self serving issues look the public in the eye, [thank goodness the groundswell from the public stopped this stadium busines s]. Again I say a 4k raise in allowances for next year was voted in that means 66 councillors x 4k [ no I am wrong Mr Eva will not be taking his make that 65 councillors] , what an example di and I agree they are men of straw following the leader, voters need to find out which way your councillor voted and then make your decision next year. ,[/p][/quote]I always thout there was over a 100 councillors but I agree with our statement making the poorest pay for your increase is a disgrace. In the unlikely event that I am ellected in may I shall be giving my increase straight back to the people it should have gone to in the first place. We have a failed council. A shame we still have 3 months until elections. ronedgcumbe
  • Score: 0

6:38pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Poldark says...

Yes you are correct it is 123 County councillors in the county, and although the Packet states that the cabinet came to this conclusion , the final vote will be next Tuesday, in a full council meeting.
Yes you are correct it is 123 County councillors in the county, and although the Packet states that the cabinet came to this conclusion , the final vote will be next Tuesday, in a full council meeting. Poldark
  • Score: 0

8:54am Sat 26 Jan 13

molesworth says...

If you have more money you should pay more tax. Step forward all you wealthy retirees, out of county second home owners, farmers, CEOs, dentists, doctors, surgeons, consultants, oyster fishermen, ice cream van owners and large estate owners. Put your hands in your pockets and spread the readies. I'm happy to pay tax and I'm not alone!
If you have more money you should pay more tax. Step forward all you wealthy retirees, out of county second home owners, farmers, CEOs, dentists, doctors, surgeons, consultants, oyster fishermen, ice cream van owners and large estate owners. Put your hands in your pockets and spread the readies. I'm happy to pay tax and I'm not alone! molesworth
  • Score: 0

9:22am Sat 26 Jan 13

Gill Zella Martin 09 says...

Eric Pickles conveniently forgets that if it wasn't for the government Cornwall Council would not be in this predicament.
Eric Pickles conveniently forgets that if it wasn't for the government Cornwall Council would not be in this predicament. Gill Zella Martin 09
  • Score: 0

9:33am Sat 26 Jan 13

Gill Zella Martin 09 says...

I still wonder out the Councillors that voted against the increase of allowances how many would accept the increase themselves if re elected. Being cynical I could think that some Councillors voted against it knowing it would gain them popularity and also knowing the chances are it would be voted in favour of anyway so therefore they would still benefit from it if re elected. I would rather have a Councillor that voted in favour and then took the increase or voted in favour but did not personally take the increase as opposed to one who voted against and yet still took the increase.
I still wonder out the Councillors that voted against the increase of allowances how many would accept the increase themselves if re elected. Being cynical I could think that some Councillors voted against it knowing it would gain them popularity and also knowing the chances are it would be voted in favour of anyway so therefore they would still benefit from it if re elected. I would rather have a Councillor that voted in favour and then took the increase or voted in favour but did not personally take the increase as opposed to one who voted against and yet still took the increase. Gill Zella Martin 09
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Lanty Slee says...

It's the Tory way - supposedly, poor people are only impoverished because they're lazy.

And why make the richest (mostly Tory-supporting) give anything back to society if you can squeeze every last penny out of the proles and plebs?

They'll be reopening the workhouses next...
It's the Tory way - supposedly, poor people are only impoverished because they're lazy. And why make the richest (mostly Tory-supporting) give anything back to society if you can squeeze every last penny out of the proles and plebs? They'll be reopening the workhouses next... Lanty Slee
  • Score: 0

7:30pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Gill Zella Martin 09 says...

Well we already have food banks. I think this shows gross mis management of the country in general, this is after all Briton in the 21st century.
Well we already have food banks. I think this shows gross mis management of the country in general, this is after all Briton in the 21st century. Gill Zella Martin 09
  • Score: 0

1:50pm Wed 30 Jan 13

helztonboy says...

http://www.freepetit
ion.co.uk/cornwall/S
ignPetition.aspx?apc
ode=+P53ID3012013120
12

if you feel the councillors should not give themselves a rise, sign the petition
http://www.freepetit ion.co.uk/cornwall/S ignPetition.aspx?apc ode=+P53ID3012013120 12 if you feel the councillors should not give themselves a rise, sign the petition helztonboy
  • Score: 0

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