Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting DN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Councillors give thumbs up to cut council tax relief by 8.5 per cent
2:24pm Friday 1st November 2013 in Local
DUDLEY Council approved plans to cut the borough’s council tax reduction by 8.5 per cent at a meeting this week.
Members of Dudley’s Labour-controlled cabinet voted through a proposal which will save the council up to £1,036,000 and affect up to 17,218 of the 33,500 borough households which receive a reduction of their council tax bill.
The option two plan, which will take effect in 2014/15, was favoured over option one which would have seen the council continuing to protect low-income families and individuals from any changes or option three which would have meant cutting the level of relief awarded to council tax benefit claimants by 20 per cent.
Councillor Pete Lowe, Dudley’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, defended criticism at Wednesday’s meeting from Conservative opposition leader Councillor Patrick Harley who said Dudley purse-string controllers should have gone for the maximum cut to help save the authority further cash.
Cllr Harley said: “There’s no sensible basis for anything other than option three; if we go for anything other than that we have failed at the first hurdle.”
But cllr Lowe hit back, branding Dudley’s Conservatives as “significantly more radical” than their colleagues in Government and added: “The 8.5 amount is transitional. By having a transitional arrangement will give us a chance to take stock; we may then look to option three for year two.”
He said last year the council decided to fully protect residents from any cuts to council tax relief but against a backdrop of continued budget pressures it had been necessary to reduce the amount awarded next year by 8.5 per cent.
Low income households receiving a council tax reduction typically receive around £706 a year (£13.54 per week) off their bill.
The authority spends around £24m annually on council tax reductions, and if the scheme were to continue next year without a cut - it would cost Dudley £2.4m due to a reduction in government funding.
A consultation on whether the relief offered to needy residents should be reduced got underway in July and closed on October 18.
The majority of the 550 respondents (73 per cent) favoured no cuts at all while 12 per cent gave the thumbs up to option two, 12 per cent voted for option three and three per cent expressed no preference.
Pensioners, diasbled adults and children, war pensioners and lone parents with a child under five will be protected from any cuts to the council tax rate reduction scheme.
The cabinet’s favoured plan is expected to be ratified at the next full council meeting on Thursday December 5.
Comments are closed on this article.