Council tax bills could be lowered for poorest
PUBLISHED: 07:51 12 November 2019
The poorest taxpayers in North Somerset could be asked to spend less on services such as recycling and road maintenance in future.
Discounts are available for people with financial difficulties to get a reduction on their council tax bills and North Somerset Council is considering lowering the amount they have to pay, 18 months after the base rate was raised.
It is seeking public reaction to the idea.
Ash Cartman, executive member for finance at North Somerset Council, said: "A decade of austerity has made life especially tough for our residents on the lowest incomes, and this administration is keen to reduce the inequalities that exist locally between the most and least deprived people in our communities."
The previous administration agreed in January last year to force people on benefits to pay at least 27.5 per cent of their council tax bill.
Then-councillor Tom Leimdorfer told members the poorest members of society would be hurt by having to pay more council tax, but the policy was passed by a majority.
However, the council is considering reversing that policy and lowering the minimum threshold to 24.5 per cent, as it used to be.
A consultation on the idea was launched on Monday.
Three ideas have been proposed, including making the change from next April.
A second proposal is to phase the discount in by one per cent increments over the next three years.
Or, the council could leave the system unchanged.
The overall cost to the council of implementing the first or second option is estimated to be in the region of £240,000 a year.
Cllr Cartman said: "We are keen to hear what local people think about the potential for us to ease the council tax bill pressure for our residents on low incomes."
For a Band C property, taxpayers would face an annual bill of approximately £45-50 less under the proposed higher discount system.
Qualifying pensioners can obtain discounts of up to 100 per cent, as prescribed by central Government, and there are no changes proposed for them.
The consultation will end on November 29.
To take part, log on to www.n-somerset.gov.uk/cts2020 or email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org