Gosport Borough Council votes in favour of cutting council tax support

Gosport Borough Council is curtting the amount it offers in council tax support
Gosport Borough Council is curtting the amount it offers in council tax support
  • Local council tax support cut from 80% to 70%
  • Tory council all vote in favour
  • Opposition believe most vulnerable are being penalised
  • Council ran a consultation prior to making its decision
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THOUSANDS of people will lose the support they receive for the council tax bills.

Gosport Borough Council has cut council tax support to people on low incomes.

It is making the less well off even less well off

Councillor Rob Hylands

It used to ask eligible people to pay 20 per cent of their council tax, but from April will make them pay 30 per cent of it.

The council has lost the £800,000 it received to provide local council tax support from the local government finance settlement. The move will also save the council £30,000 per year.

Back payments of the benefit have been reduced from six months to one month.

But the move has been condemned as targeting the most vulnerable.

Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour party voted against the proposal, which will affect 3,015 people.

The Tories in charge of the council voted unanimously in favour.

Lib Dem Cllr Rob Hylands said: ‘It’s making the less well off even less well off.

‘These people are least able to afford it and they are going to be paying.

‘As someone who could afford it, I would be looking for those who could afford it to pay a bit more.

‘The prime minister says she wants a fairer society – this isn’t fair at all.

‘We should find another way to make these savings.’

Labour leader June Cully said: ‘Here we are again, picking on the disabled and those on the lowest incomes.

‘For Band C properties, people are going to be £140 a year worse off. How are they going to find this extra money?’

Cllr Cully tried to stop the changes to backdating payments but failed.

The council ran a consultation between October 17 and December 11 last year and leader Cllr Mark Hook said every single person who received council tax benefit was informed of how they could have their say but only 494 took part in it.

‘It shows as a council we care and those were the results,’ Cllr Hook said.

Cllr Stephen Philpott said: ‘It is unfortunate that we have to make this decision and this is a difficult decision to make.

‘But as councillors we were elected to make difficult decisions.

‘What I do not hear is an alternative solution.’

The council voted unanimously in favour of creating an exceptional hardship fund for anyone who struggles without the money they will lose.

Cllr Hook added that Gosport has always been a sympathetic council and the hardship fund will provide a safety net.

There is an estimated £55,000 in the pot, which could rise depending on people’s need.

But both Cllr Hylands and Cllr Cully expressed their concern and believe it will be used up fast.