Thursday, 27 September 2012

Defend Council Tax Benefits

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Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign

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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Nottingham City Council's Savage Cuts

Nottingham City Council is proposing a savage attack on Council Tax Benefits
·         Every working age person and their partner would have to pay at least 20% of their Council Tax bill - with some similarity to the poll tax, an unwaged person on their own would be paying 20% of the bill
·         Council Tax Benefit would be based on a maximum of a band B property. Therefore,  if one member of a couple worked and one did not and the working person lost their job – they would pay:
·         If in a band B property, £251 per year - £5 a week
·         If in a band D property £606.92 a year – £11.67 per week – a massive 37% of their council tax

It gets worse
·         If people are able to save up for retirement or lose their job and receive some  redundancy money, if a person and/or their partner has savings above £6,000, they will not be entitled to any council Tax Benefit
·         And to add insult to injury- if a claim is not in on time and there can be many reasons for that – no backdating will be allowed!
·         The council is also considering  stopping CTB if the amount due  to a recipient is less than £2/week or £4/week
·         These proposals mean that many people will not be able to pay their council tax
·         Rather than pass on Con-Dem cuts, Nottingham and all other councils should refuse to pass government cuts on and should be building a massive campaign to fight for properly funded councils. Nottingham City Council say they lost a massive £60million in real terms in 2011/12.  Councils like Nottingham should stop using highly paid external consultants which costs £millions

If the councils do not want to fight for fully funded schemes, we need to build a massive community campaign involving the trade unions, many of whose members are facing these attacks.

Councils Should Fight Cuts

If councils do not fight– if the government gets its way –more cuts will follow

This year, some councils, like BROXTOWE, are trying to avoid cutting benefit entitlements, by increasing charges on various categories of empty properties. 

Whilst no-one wants to see properties left uninhabited, there can be many reasons for empty properties – it is not just big private landlords sitting on their properties – it can be homes that are unfit for habitation; or properties that people cannot sell due to the economic crisis.

Limited funds – Under the Government’s proposals, any increased demand for CTB e.g. due to job losses or reduced income such as from short time working,  has to come from the pot of money already  allocated by the government. Greater need means less is available for each recipient and year on year, councils will be re-assessing their income and expected needs and looking how to make the savings.

If the Con-Dem proposals are not stopped, there will be further cuts in the money allocated by the government each year. Councils will find that if they do not fight for a properly funded scheme they cannot raise sufficient funds without making cuts in benefit entitlements.

Increasing charges is not an alternative to fighting – it reflects a lack of will of councils to fight for more funding and prepares the way for cuts. Where available, councils should use reserves to cover any shortfall and to buy time to build a real campaign for proper council funding.
Councils must fight now! We need to build a mass campaign to pressurise them to refuse to pass the cuts on either by increased charges and/or cuts in benefit entitlement.

Who gets Council Tax Benefit

Who receives Council Tax Benefit (CTB) 
(official figures from April 2012)

·        Over 5.9million people receive CTB; almost 900,000 more than receive Housing benefit. It includes many low paid workers.

·    In Nottingham, 42,510 households were receiving CTB, with 8,820 in Broxtowe Borough, 9,290 in Gedling and 5,860 in Rushcliffe.


Con-Dem attack on Council Tax Benefits

This vicious government is determined to make ordinary people pay for the crisis whilst their banker friends get bailed out and still get their bonuses.

Under the misnamed ‘Welfare Reform Act, the government  is proposing to abolish the national Council Tax Benefit (CTB) scheme which is centrally funded and make all councils in England bring in their own scheme from April 2013, with less funding. They aim to save around £410million in England approximately 10% of current costs. In Nottingham and Nottinghamshire the cut is around £13.29 million. For the City Council the shortfall is closer to 15% of what the City council pays out in Council Tax Benefit.

The government want councils to cut benefits as part of the attack on the welfare state to make us pay for the bankers’ and the system’s crisis and to make benefits so poor that people will work for as little as employers want to pay. Hardly surprising, some in the government want to get rid of the minimum wage. Currently, the government has exempted pensioners (approximately 1/3 of CTB recipients) from this latest attack – but for how long?