Benefits claimants to pay more council tax

Cllr Chris Corbett
Cllr Chris Corbett
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Benefits claimants in Erewash are set to be forced to fork out more towards their council tax bills under new plans out for consultation.

Residents on income support and other benefits, who are currently exempt from council tax, will have to foot at least some of their council tax bill.

Cllr Clare Neill.

Cllr Clare Neill.

The Government plans to cut the cash it gives to every council in the country to pay for claimants’ council tax bills by 10 per cent, leaving Erewash Borough Council with a deficit of about £90,000.

Every claimant of working age in the borough will receive a letter this week asking them what they think of the plans.

Pensioners on benefits – who make up roughly half of the borough’s 10,000 claimants – will remain exempt.

Erewash’s Labour group has blasted the decision as ‘worrying’ and called the eight-week consultation a ‘sham’.

Cllr Clare Neill, shadow member for community engagement, said the council should find the cash to pay for half of the deficit – about £45,000 – to reduce the burden on claimants – including families receiving child tax credits.

“The burden is going to fall on working families who are already suffering from child tax credits being cut,” she said.

But leader of the council Cllr Chris Corbett said if they did not make claimants pay towards council tax it would mean council tax for working people would have to rise.

“It’s only right and proper that everyone should contribute to wards their council tax bill,” he said.

He explained that, to reduce the burden on claimants, the council has increased the tax residents have to pay on second homes and the 700 empty properties in Erewash – a move Labour said it supports.

“If we can encourage the owners of those properties to bring them back on to the market it will have great benefits for the borough,” said Cllr Neill.

Have your say on the plans via www.erewash.gov.uk.