Gosport council tax consultation condemned by critics
FEARS have been raised that low earners could be stripped of the support they receive to help to pay council tax.
Gosport Borough Council has launched a consultation about its council tax support scheme. It is looking cut £1.5m in payouts by 2020 and aims to save £660,000 by the end of the 2017/18 financial year.
As reported by The News, the council increased leisure and town car parking fees in the town, which is believed to bring an extra £170,000 in revenue.
The proposed scheme will only affect people of a working age. Pensioners will not be affected as their financial support is operated under a national scheme protected from changes.
Lib Dem leader Councillor Peter Chegwyn said that the poorest people of the town will be the ones who suffer.
He said: ‘Yet again, the least well-off people on Gosport are going to be affected the worst.
‘The public have been hit by a triple whammy. First, it was the council tax increases earlier in the year.
‘The majority of the fees in the town have increased and now this.
‘It seems that the Conservatives only consult the people when it suits them the best, although I do recommend people have their say.’
Labour leader Cllr June Cully added: ‘I don’t think we should be cutting people’s benefits – the only fair way would be a council tax rise across the board.
‘The government is forever tightening the budget of local government which is making things extremely difficult.’
But council leader Cllr Mark Hook insisted all options are being explored to find a viable solution to achieve the savings.
He said: ‘We will be reviewing the level of council tax support we give residents and want people’s opinions on the different options being considered.
‘Reducing the amount of support we provide is one way the council can achieve the necessary savings. The alternative would be to make bigger savings in other services across Gosport or increasing council tax for everyone.
‘We want to know how people think we should balance the requirement for savings while still supporting those most in need.’
The consultation will run until December 11.
To give your thoughts, visit www.gosport.gov.uk/benefits or go to the Town Hall for a copy.