Bradford unemployed may lose relief on council tax
Controversial proposals have been drawn up by Bradford Council chiefs to scrap the 100 per cent council tax relief for the unemployed.
The move to charge jobless working age adults a quarter of their bills has been drawn by the ruling Labour group to try to keep a lid on council tax rises while protecting services.
That could mean a bill of £71 a month for someone living in a Band A home.
Council leader David Green last night admitted the plan, which is set to go out to public consultation, had been one of the most difficult decisions of his 20 years in politics.
The authority has been forced to act in the face of a ten per cent reduction in the amount it receives from the Government in Council Tax support – which amounts to £4.3 million.
A report to the Council’s executive on Tuesday notes the proposals should encourage the “transition into employment”, but elsewhere also warns it “will add to the high probability of an increase in the level of child and adult poverty, debt and homelessness”.
Coun Green said: “We have to address this reduction but we still want to protect vulnerable households as far as we possibly can. We continue to face very difficult decisions as unprecedented levels of public spending cuts are being made at a time of increasing demand for services and continued economic uncertainty.”
The Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland said the situation could have been avoided.
She accused the Council of ignoring the freedoms given by the Government earlier this year to raise more than £4 million from collecting Council Tax on empty and second homes, which could cover the cost of the benefit reduction.
And she said that the Labour group was looking to promote the “worst case scenario” and blame the Government.
She said: “What they are doing is protecting rich people who have more than one home by passing it on to people who are out of work.”
In response, Coun Green said while the two figures “allegedly” balanced, mixed messages were coming from the Government as it continued to cut resources.
He said: “What Coun Sunderland is ignoring is the fact we are having massive further cuts and we are also having to look to protect services to the elderly, vulnerable and young people and do everything else the people of Bradford are demanding. These decisions that we have been making have been some of the hardest decisions I have had to make in 20 years in politics.”
Councillor Glen Miller , the Council’s Conservative group leader, said: “We need to all tighten our belts and I would hope that the ruling executive will not target one group against another.”
A spokesman for Bradford-based charity Christians Against Poverty said: “There are those who don’t want to admit to poverty in the UK but there really are families in Bradford without any carpets, searching in empty cupboards to feed the kids.
“The Council is having to make very difficult decisions but we would urge them to remember those at the very bottom, the most vulnerable in the city for whom finances are already a cause of huge stress.”
I have written the following letter to the T&A on this issue:
So not content to doing the Tories’ dirty work by imposing their cuts, closing our libraries and swimming pools, and withdrawing funding from essential social services, the City Hall cabal masquerading as a Labour Council is now targeting the most disadvantaged in our society. Keir Hardie must be spinning in his grave.
Electorally, of course, they no doubt calculate cynically that this will do them no harm come 2014, since it’s a statistical fact that people at the bottom of the heap tend not to vote, though they have most to lose when people like Dave Green and his mob take power.
The only to defeat that strategy is to organise the unemployed, as Wal Hannington did before the war. There’s a job here for Respect, in my opinion.
I have submitted the following resolution for tonight’s meeting of the Respect District Assembly:
This District Assembly of the Respect Party declares its total opposition to any proposal from the Labour Party to penalise the unemployed by making them pay Council Tax.
We resolve to make this a top priority campaigning issue and to reach out to the unemployed to assist them in opposing this iniquitous proposal.
It instructs the Policy Executive to draw up a petition on the issue and begin collecting signatures with a view to addressing the next meeting of Bradford Council Executive.
We urge all Respect members to attend the October meeting of the Council to express our solidarity with unemployed workers under attack by Labour.