Most families on benefits will have to pay council tax

Mike Taylor, operations director at Society of St James with the leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones.

Picture: Sarah Standing (170729-3206)

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COUNCIL tax is set to go up for some people as Havant Borough Council has been forced to save an extra £1m in its budget.

The government has cut the amount of welfare money it gives to all councils in a bid to encourage more working-age people into employment.

It means some families on welfare benefits will have to pay council tax where they did not have to before.

The Conservative cabinet had five options to consider and is recommending every working age household should pay at least 8.5 per cent of the full council tax.

This is the equivalent of £7.32 a month for a Band B property.

Pensioners and people with disabilities on benefits will see no change.

Meanwhile, other proposed changes will mean people with second homes will have their 10 per cent discount on council tax removed.

Owners of unoccupied unfurnished properties will have their discount removed and have to pay the full council tax.

Council tax on properties that have been empty for more than two years will increase by 50 per cent.

The new scheme, subject to final approval by full council, will take effect from April.

Faith Ponsonby, a Lib Dem councillor for Battins ward in Leigh Park, which is one of the most deprived in the south, was worried some families would struggle.

She said: ‘There’s a lot of families suffering and having to cut back. I am just worried how they going to manage.

‘We are having a lot more people going to food banks.’

Tony Briggs, leader of Havant Borough Council, said: ‘We are recommending a scheme that reduces the impact on vulnerable local residents as much possible.

‘Those on the lowest incomes will experience minimal impact. Pensioners and people with disabilities are protected, and our local scheme for war widows and widowers and war disablement pensioners continues. People who own second homes will see a slight increase in council tax, and those whose properties are empty can expect to contribute more.’

The council had options to make everyone of working age pay at least 30 per cent council tax – around £25 a month for a Band B home – but is recommending 8.5 per cent. Because it chose a lower threshold, the council qualifies for a government grant of £228,000 to help support the changes.