Thousands of Hyndburn’s poorest people are set to be hit with a 35 per cent hike in council tax – under proposals to meet council funding shortfalls.
Plans to increase council tax for the worst off by up to £74 a year by reducing the level of Council Tax Support (CTS) have been criticised as ‘disproportionate’.
Hyndburn council has said that maintaining the current level of CTS at 80 per cent in the face of continuing government funding reductions is unsustainable.
Public consultation is being sought on three options: raising council tax rates for everyone, cutting or reducing other services and, the council’s preferred option, reducing maximum support levels for working age council tax support claimants from 80 to 73 per cent.
If introduced it would take the hike in bills of the worst off claimants since the abolition of Council Tax Benefit in 2013 to over £280 a year.
Lucy Hardwick, manager of the Maundy Relief charity, said the proposal was ‘disappointing’.
She said: “A lot of people already struggled with the initial contributions. Any difference will disproportionately impact on people with very low fixed incomes.”
The council estimates the reduction will generate extra income of £229,531.
Council leader Miles Parkinson explained: “We are trying to protect those in most need. If we don’t make reductions council services will have have to be cut or abolished.”
Currently 8,533 residents claim CTS in Hyndburn, 3,519 of whom are pensioners and 5,014 are of working age. Pensioners are exempt from the proposed rise under government legislation.
Conservative leader Coun Tony Dobson welcomed the proposals.
He said: “I think it is part of a greater plan from a Conservative government which wants to make everyone equal.”
MP Graham Jones said: “Hyndburn has been financially savaged over the last five years by Tory central government and Hyndburn residents are paying the price.”
Miranda Carruthers-Watt, chief officer of Hyndburn Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “The council is in a very difficult position, support for people’s council tax benefit has been reduced and the poorest in society are being hit hardest.”
Consultation on the council’s proposals will run from September 7 until November 29.