Earlier this year Middlesbrough Council’s Executive agreed to consult town-wide on a change in policy which would reduce bills for those least able to pay.
Middlesbrough Council already provides support to those most in need through the Local Council Tax Support Scheme which can help people with up to 80% of their bill.
The consultation has now concluded with 59% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the proposal of increasing that level of support to 85%, reducing the minimum amount payable
The policy is part of a number of measures, also aimed at increasing local collection rates which have fallen following the Government’s slashing of funding for council tax benefits in April 2013.
As a result of national policy, since that date thousands of people in Middlesbrough, on the lowest incomes and least able to pay, were required to pay Council Tax for the first time and thousands more, many from working households, have had to pay an increased amount.
At a meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive it was agreed to take the policy change to full Council in December for all councillors to vote on the proposal.
Cllr Nicky Walker, Executive Member for Finance and Governance, said: “The consultation results show strong support for the adoption of this policy.
“To explain what it would mean in financial terms based on this year’s rates, for someone living in a Band A property and based on the current Council Tax charges for 2017/18, this would mean that a property with more than one adult would pay £59.34 per year less in Council Tax and a single person, with discount for being the only adult in the property £44.49 less. They are currently required to pay £237 and £178 respectively, so in effect they would pay 25% less.
“It is also important to make those who would not qualify for this assistance aware that they will not be asked to pay more to make up the shortfall and will not be adversely affected in any way, the assistance can be found within existing budgets.
“The changes in 2013 remain a grossly unfair Conservative Government policy which hits disproportionately those who have the least ability to pay, many of whom have also been hit by the Bedroom Tax and other benefit cuts and will also be having to cope with Universal Credit, including working people on low levels of income and I hope this is taken into account by all councillors at December’s vote.”