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Benefit cut for ‘most vulnerable’ say Lib Dems

PUBLISHED: 17:05 09 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:06 09 March 2016

Cllr Ian Bond said the Lib Dems could not back the council's budget due to cuts to council tax support.

Cllr Ian Bond said the Lib Dems could not back the council's budget due to cuts to council tax support.

Archant

One of the most controversial proposals in last week’s budget was the decision to reduce council tax support for those on low incomes.

What the budget means for you

The change which will affect all residents in Redbridge is the increase in council tax by the statutory maximum of 3.99 per cent, which equates to 1.78pc to residents after the GLA’s payment is added.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “All councils will be doing this in a couple of years.”

The increase for Band D, the average band, is £24.69 a year. The top band will have to pay £49.38 more and the lowest band an additional £16.46.

Out of the increase, half will go towards adult social care, as recommended by the chancellor of the exchequer in the autumn statement.

This is expected to raise £11.1million for care services by 2019.

Council tax benefit support will be reduced by 15pc as well.

The council is cutting its subsidy for community meals, also known as “meals on wheels”. The cost of meals after April will increase from £4.15 to £5.55.

A council spokeswoman said: “This is still good value for a delivered hot meal and it is expected that the impact will be minimal.”

People who receive working age council tax reductions will now pay 15 per cent as opposed to having the tax subsidised.

This is estimated to bring in £900,000 for the council over the next three years.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said this was one of the many difficult decisions his administration had to make in the wake of central government funding cuts of 52pc.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Ian Bond agreed with Cllr Athwal that Labour had a hard job, but said his party could not support a budget which would reduce council tax benefit on “the most vulnerable”.

He explained: “This is a council tax increase of 200pc on mostly working residents and that is wrong.

“I do believe it will be a false economy as the administration costs of collecting it with bailiffs will be more than the amount of money gained.”


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