‘Draconian’ measures see one councillor resign from working party looking at how to raise cash.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Proposals for consultation.

Proposals for consultation by district councils include the following measures. Most councils are currently consulting on the detail and most are contacting claimants directly. Further detail is also available from each council’s website:

Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s proposals include (www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk):

Reduction of at least 20pc in the level of help available;

Child benefit and maintenance to be included as income;

A limit of £6,000 on the amount of capital a claimant can have to qualify for the benefit. For example, someone in a Band B house with a council tax bill of £1,153.22 who currently pays nothing, will have to pay £230.64 each year.

Waveney District Council (www.waveney.gov.org):

Axing discount for second homes;

No discount for empty home owners;

Reducing benefits for everyone of working age;

Removing the second adult rebate where a reduction is granted if the householder shares with a low-earning adult.

South Norfolk Council (www.south-norfolk.gov.uk):

Capping help to Band D equivalent only – so owners of more expensive properties receive less;

Claimants in bands A to E receive benefit at a level one band below their own. So a Band B claim would receive help based on Band A levels;

Treating maintenance as income but not child benefit;

Removing back-dated benefit;

A 20pc reduction to the benefit for those of working age;

Assuming the self-employed earn at least minimum wage;

Capital of between £10 and £16,000 to be considered on a sliding scale.

For example, a couple both on Job Seekers Allowance in a Band B property currently receiving 100pc benefit of £97.48 a month will have to pay £30.64.

West Norfolk Council. Options yet to be approved before going to consultation. (www.west-norfolk.gov.uk):

Child benefit and maintenance counted as income;

Maximum amount of capital allowed is £6,000;

Households with a child under five are protected;

Maximum amount of support is 75pc compared to the existing 100pc;

Self-employed assumed to have an income at least of minimum wage.

Broadland District Council (www.broadland.gov.uk):

Reducing working age benefits by 25pc;

Reducing the capital limit to £6,000;

Counting child benefit as income;

Removing backdating.

Fenland District Council (www.fenland.gov.uk):

Across the board reduction of 20pc to benefit.

Forest Heath District Council: (www.forest-heath.gov.uk)

Second home owners to pay more;

Owners of empty homes to pay more;

Working age people to share the cost of making-up the deficit.

Breckland, North Norfolk, South Holland and Norwich City councils have yet to reveal on which options they will be consulting residents.

Major changes to the system of council tax benefits will hit the region’s poorest residents with warnings of a postcode lottery as each district comes up with a different formula.

Almost everyone of working age will be expected to contribute to their annual bill from April next year – including those who currently pay nothing.

Thousands of low-paid and unemployed residents will be worse off as a result. The move has already seen one district councillor resign from a working party looking at the situation after he said the proposals were “draconian”.

Graham Jones, a Liberal Democrat member of both North Norfolk District Council and the county council, said he was standing down from the district’s working party because of how strongly he felt about the issue.

“Some 2,105 recipients of benefit will lose between £20 and £40 a month. Many of those will already be living on the margin,” he said.

“I have not felt so strongly about something in my 30-odd years in local government. I find it repugnant that we are being asked to decide which of the poorest residents will have to face cuts. It’s something I cannot do.”

There are 82,090 people who receive council tax benefit in Norfolk, with 37,906 identified as working age claimants. 36,650 are of pensionable age, who will not be affected.

The Government is changing the system so that help with council tax bills comes directly from the local authority, not centrally via the benefits system.

Ministers want to reduce the annual £4.2bn council tax benefit bill by 10pc from April in an attempt to cut claimant numbers.

The councils are expected to make up the reduction.

Officers around the region are currently working on a raft of proposals which are going out to public consultation before being put to members for approval.

Mr Jones is also calling for an urgent meeting between council delegates and ministers to discuss the proposed changes which, he said, could be a “tipping point” for thousands of families.

The Government has insisted that pensioners and ‘vulnerable’ people are protected, so in some rural areas with high proportions of older residents, a bigger burden will fall on working-age householders and the criteria is already varying between districts.

Paul Carrick, finance portfolio holder at Broadland District Council, said the change was a huge departure from Government-led benefits to a local system.

“It is like being given a cake and they take a large slice out of it, and then another one.

“It is a postcode lottery,” he said.

Some councils will include child benefit as ‘income’ while others are not likely to. A number of councils are proposing an across the board reduction in help, while others have suggested a more complicated range of changes using a tariff.

Chief executive at West Norfolk Council, Ray Harding, said he was hoping to get all local council bosses in the area together to discuss a way of creating a hardship fund to ease the problem.

A range of technical changes involving taxation of second and empty homes are also being considered and Mr Harding said he hoped if the proposals were agreed, they would also be used by other authorities.

“We are looking at reducing discount to 5pc for second homes among other things. If we took the discount away completely, we would have no way of knowing which homes were second homes and could lose the money we get back from the county council under a different scheme as a result,” he said.

Mr Harding said if the technical changes were adopted around the county there would be scope to create a hardship fund to help those in most need.

Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts is also lobbying on the issue and secretary Frank Joyce said the poorest would be hit hardest.

“We are having a meeting to discuss this and it is really wrong. On top of everything else people are being hit again,” he said.

13 comments

  • I am very concered about these changes. I currently have two very part time jobs, Together they do not make a full job. one is minimum wage ,the other just a few pence over. I presently get help, Ifear if they reduce my help, I will be unable to pay my bills. Each day I record what I spend At the end of each month I tally up, then decide where I can cut back!!! I am getting to the stage where there is no slack!!!! Any one got a spare cardboard box!!!!

    Report this comment

    lucy

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • I assume Mr Jones that you are still the chair of the North Norfolk Lib Dems? If you feel these plans are "draconian" (something that we can agree on) perhaps you should reconsider your position in the Lib Dems too, and not just a working party. Your party supported these devestating cuts for the poorest and low-income workers, and your MP Norman Lamb voted for them.

    Report this comment

    Jono

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Double Bill - My views on the minimum wage is that it was a failed piece of social engineering. Too many employers are getting away with not paying the right rate for the job. I am perplexed by your comment. As far as making up losses Councils need to get back to making sure their tenants looked after properties. Too many don`t and when they leave the properties they have to be virtually gutted. Must be costing a fortune.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • taking away the safeguards of minimum wage would only allow many businesses to pay even less, bg , and take us back to victorian times .

    Report this comment

    Double Bill

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • With the distinct likelyhood that benefits will increase by 3% next April these changes will no way be as dire as the headline suggests. The days of the benefit system being the main or sole source of income are coming to an end. Next ought to be the minimum wage which is keeping wages in this country artificially low. Employees and employers knowing that in the majority of cases the state will make up the deficit.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Double Bill - The safeguard you talk of perversely works in favour of the employer not the employee.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Maybe the Lib Dems will start to regret mocking Labour for saying they can't make "difficult decisions" when even Cllr Jones is running away from making the choices.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • bg where do you think they will find the missing £951,000 in north norfolk to pay for the loss ? as more and more people become unemployed or old it will only be more difficult to make these decisions . as for your view on minimum wage , will you next tell children to go back up the chimneys ?

    Report this comment

    Double Bill

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Double Bill - My views on the minimum wage is that it was a failed piece of social engineering. Too many employers are getting away with not paying the right rate for the job. I am perplexed by your comment. As far as making up losses Councils need to get back to making sure their tenants looked after properties. Too many don`t and when they leave the properties they have to be virtually gutted. Must be costing a fortune.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Once again the working poor are hit. The word "working " being the key word. High prices of petrol ,20% VAT and food prices rising almost daily,gas and electric profiteering, it is becoming pointless to work . Four or five pounds per week extra out of the pockets of such people is disasterous. The people in government at all levels have lost touch with reality. Walk a mile in my shoes would be very apt.

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Double Bill > Gt Yarmouth is already back in Victorian times with the tourist industry having a long hours, low pay, slave labour economy, and its getting worse.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • Well, maybe the extra returns from subsidised solar panels on publicly owned roofs can be ploughed back into the benefit system. Further, if councils do not own a housing stock, should they provide housing advice and employ many? Finally Mr. Jones seems a good times cllr. who does not like to loose his two hats with some unpopular measures. Maybe he wants to step down and really make this an issue, or relinquish one of his seats to entice debate during an election? Or would that be too close to his pockets?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, August 20, 2012

  • "..........a couple both on Job Seekers Allowance in a Band B property currently receiving 100pc benefit of £97.48 a month will have to pay £30.64." Where did 97.48 per month come from ??. I am in a band B and mine is considerably more than this !. Is this more unreliable reporting from the EDP ?.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Monday, August 20, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 12°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT