Changes to council tax benefits in Redbridge dubbed ‘a chaotic mess’

Councillors have criticised the “short” amount of time they have been given by the government to make sweeping changes to council tax benefits for thousands of residents.

Negative reactions from members were expressed at the full council meeting on Thursday at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

New laws to abolish council tax benefit will come into effect from April 2013, and in the future, local councils will decide how to award council tax deductions to eligible residents.

Labour Cllr Wes Streeting said: “Why is it a good idea to place a greater burden which is likely to be felt by one in six households?

“It is not fair for the government to pass the buck and the council has no idea how these reforms will impact on the poorest. It is a chaotic mess.”

Residents will be consulted until the end of August, with another report presented to the cabinet in September.

Labour Cllr Gurdial Bhamra said: “The consultation time is just too short; the decision should be postponed for a year.”

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Cabinet member for resources and Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Ian Bond has published a range of options to replace council tax benefits which will plug the �2.3million shortfall the changes will bring.

He said: “The budget is difficult but that is the same for every council.

“We have heard a number of complaints but nothing can be done, it’s too late.”

During the last financial year, 22,966 people claimed council tax benefit. Households with children accounted for the most, with 9,244 making a claim. Second highest was those over 60, accounting for 7,171 people.

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