Council tax support for low income families will be investigated

Low income families could be offered a discretionary payment to help them cope with government cuts to council tax support.

Coun Philip Sturman’s calls to investigate the offer were agreed by East Lindsey District Council’s portfolio holder for finance Coun John Upsall at a recent meeting.

Coun Sturman feared the council’s plans to cope with a £1.4 million funding gap from central government would have a ‘disproportionate affect’ on low income families, who would see their council tax exemption reduced to a 25 per discount.

Coun Sarah Dodds agreed, saying: “Come April we will have a grotesque situation where councils without a penny to spare will be wasting money pursuing tax from people who don’t have a penny to spare.

“I cannot support a policy that will make the most vulnerable people in this district more vulnerable - this amendment will offer the most protection to our poorest residents.”

The Mayor of Skegness Coun Mark Anderson also supported the investigation of discretionary payments as he feared many of his constituents, unable to find full time work, would be hit hardest by the changes.

Other aspects of the report also came under criticism, including the reduction from six months to one month for the period when an unoccupied and unfurnished property is exempt from tax.

With just one month, Coun Neil Cooper feared landlords would be unable to re-let a home after the previous tenant’s departure and would be forced to pay tax on a property for which they are receiving none of the council’s services.

Coun Upsall admitted he was ‘not happy’ to present his report, but said it was necessary ‘because of these difficult times’ and warned that more difficult decisions were likely to follow.

Counillors carried the motion.