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Council tax full discount set to continue in Kirklees for 11,000 most vulnerable

A PLAN to save £1million by scrapping a policy where thousands of low income households pay no council tax in Kirklees looks set to passed over.

Officers at Kirklees Council have reviewed the current council tax reduction scheme and drawn up a proposal which would see people who currently pay nothing, having to find 10 per cent of their bill.

But senior councillors on the Labour-run cabinet have indicated that they do not wish to take up the option given the impact on some of the district’s most vulnerable people.

More than 37,000 currently benefit from the scheme, which costs the authority £28 million a year. Almost 14,000 pensioner households are protected, and will continue to be.

But around 11,000 homes, mainly the severely disabled and single parents with children under five, faced having to pay ten per cent of their bills for the first time. This would have saved the authority £960,000.

Cllr Graham Turner, cabinet member for corporate services, has made it clear ahead of tomorrow’s cabinet meeting that members will not be supporting the plan.

A final decision will then be made at next Wednesday’s meeting of full council.

He said: “Obviously we cannot pre-empt a Cabinet decision, but I will be asking colleagues not to vote through changes affecting single parents of children under 5, nor households that receive the severe or enhanced disability premium.

“Even though consultation supported this measure, my view is that these are some of our most vulnerable groups and I will put that to colleagues.

“Cabinet colleagues will consider not just the savings of almost £1 million, but what the impact of making that saving is on those families and other services.”

Cabinet will also vote on reducing the savings limit to qualify for council tax support from £16,000 to £8,000, and on measures to reduce the administration costs of the scheme. They are expected to recommended these two changes, which will save £100,000, be accepted.

Around 12,000 low income households of working age will continue to pay up to 20 per cent of their council tax bills.

Bradford Council operates a similar scheme and consultation over possible changes has recently ended.

The proposals include reducing the maximum level of support provided and removing entitlement from anyone who would otherwise qualify for less than £4 per week.

Pensioners will not be affected by the proposals.

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