Poorest households affected by council tax rise

An anti-poverty think tank has told that it is the poorest households who have to pay more council tax now that the benefit changes have come into force. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said that more than 2 million low income families face an increase in the council tax they pay, and that this increase is, on average, £140 a year.

The abolishment of council tax benefit went ahead on April 1st. Ministers have called for councils to protect the most vulnerable from the increases but have left it up to them how they do this. Council tax benefit is being replaced by a new system – council tax support – and responsibility for it is being moved from central government to councils. At the same time, the total spent on the benefit is being cut by 10% – and each council in England has had to decide whether to pass on the reduction to residents.

Most councils have chosen to increase council tax bills for low income families.

The report, written by the New Policy Institute (NPI) for the foundation, found 232 local authorities had devised schemes that would demand council tax from everyone regardless of income; only 58 have retained previous levels of support for families who received housing benefit.