Low paid workers to be hit by Portsmouth City Council tax change

DECISION Councilor Hugh Mason
DECISION Councilor Hugh Mason

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CHANGES to council tax being considered by Portsmouth City Council will hit workers on the lowest wages.

From April next year the local authority takes over responsibility for collecting the levy as part of nationwide changes brought in by the coalition government.

The new system will be accompanied by a 10 per cent cut in the funds councils are given to help lift people on very low incomes out of paying council tax.

Officers calculate this will leave them with a shortfall of £1.87m, which will have to be met either by further cuts to services or increasing the amount residents are charged.

In a report endorsed by Lib Dem finance boss Hugh Mason, they recommend doing away with the current 100 per cent exemption, which lifts some people entirely out of paying council tax.

This would mean all working people, no matter how low their salaries, will be required to pay the levy.

Cllr Mason said disabled people and pensioners would not be hit by the increase.

He added that to help people in the very lowest-paid jobs there would be a £10 reduction per week in the amount of income taken into consideration.

Tory finance spokeswoman, Cllr Donna Jones, said she thought the money needed to fund the shortfall could be made up from other sources.

‘It is completely unacceptable to increase taxes for the lowest-paid workers in society,’ she said.

‘I have fully costed plans that could raise enough to cover this and not increase the burden on people at a time when making ends meet and finding a job are already hard enough. This is the wrong solution to this problem.’

The council’s cabinet will discuss the proposals at a special meeting on September 3.