THOUSANDS of Hillingdon’s poorest people will have to pay council tax for the first time from April.
More than 13,000 – mainly those in low income households and single parents – face having to find money to replace the benefits they are to lose.
The current council tax benefits are being scrapped by the government from the start of the 2013-14 financial year.
Hillingdon Council – like all local authorities – has had to come up with its own scheme, but with around £2.3million a year less from Whitehall to fund its chosen policy.
Just before Christmas, the council announced it was to freeze its council tax rates for the next two financial years.
Under the new scheme, only pensioners, war widows and people who qualify for a disability premium will not have to pay any council tax.
Many people will have to pay for the first time ever, including some single parents.
For example, under the new scheme, a single person on jobseeker’s allowance will have to pay £4.08 a week in council tax, or more than £210 a year. At present they pay nothing.
Single people earning £100 a week will see their payments almost double, from £4.80 a week to £8.88.
Single parents with two children who receive income support and child tax credit will have to pay £4.08 a week after previously being exempt.
Single parents with two children and a total weekly income of £275 will get bills of £6.02, rather than the £1.94 per week at present.
On Thursday, December 20, the council’s cabinet voted to implement the scheme from April for an initial period of two years, during which its impact alongside the broader sweep of government welfare reforms will be monitored.
In a statement, the council said: “The government has given local councils the responsibility for administering council tax benefits, but has not given us the full amount of funding to do so.
“To prevent the need for either a cut in service budgets or an increase in council tax for all residents, we have introduced a new scheme to cover the predicted £2.25m shortfall in funding.
“This will protect the most vulnerable residents claiming council tax benefit whilst other claimants pay a contribution.
“Following an extensive public consultation, the majority of respondents agreed with our proposals.”
n Do you agree? Would you pay a few pounds more a week so that some of the people mentioned above did not have to pay out? Email your views to email@example.com.