'Poorest' hit by 'devastating' tax changes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 January 2018

Weston Town Hall.

Weston Town Hall.

Archant

North Somerset's poorest families face being made to 'pay for the mistakes of the rich' after the council approved tax changes which could have 'devastating' consequences.

North Somerset Council has voted to increase the minimum council tax contribution for working-age householders from 24.5 per cent to 27.5 per cent – representing an annual £200,000 reduction in council-funded discount.

The increase approved by the council’s Conservative majority, but critics have slammed the the move and say it will hurt hard-up and vulnerable people.

Councillor Tom Leimdorfer said: “We are talking about the most vulnerable so why do we want to be the local authority in the whole of the South West which hits the poorest hardest?

“We should increase to 25 per cent which is the same as Cornwall, Torridge and North Devon, and thereby mitigate the really devastating effect on some of our poorest families.”

Cllr Donald Davies added: “The statistic for North Somerset is we are the third most unequal authority in the country.

“We are penalising the poor; the poor are paying for the mistakes of the rich.”

Citizens Advice North Somerset has also warned the change will hurt the community’s poorest families’ ability to meet the costs of living at a time when many are already struggling.

Chief executive Fiona Cope said: “Any decrease in the support provided to local residents through the council tax support scheme will have a detrimental impact on the poorest people within our communities and on those least able to meet their outgoings.

“With increased costs in rent, utilities and food it just makes things even harder for people, which in turn has an impact on their ability to hold down work, maintain their homes and care for their families.”

The council also revealed it needs to save more than £11million over the next 12 months, on top of the £90million saved since 2010.

Leader Nigel Ashton said: “With such significant levels of savings achieved over successive years, there are no easy or comfortable decisions ahead for us.

“None of us entered office to cut much-valued public services, but as nationally the government still fails to recognise the importance of tackling the issues associated with an increasingly ageing population, our choices are limited.”

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