North Norfolk Labour Party has welcomed the outcome of a vote yesterday that saw the government defeated in a key House of Lords vote around changes to council tax benefit, with Labour forcing an independent review of the changes to be carried out within three years of them being introduced.
The changes to council tax benefit have been branded the “new poll tax” due to their serious implications – with particular concern about North Norfolk where the cuts will be some of the worst in the country.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham, former work and pensions minister, led a House of Lords amendment on Monday that warned the changes risked creating a “poll tax mark two” with up to two million families paying towards their council tax for the first time. She told the House of Lords on Monday: “If set too high, families cannot pay. If set too low, the council cannot collect”.
She added that an independent review within three years would allow Parliament to see if the changes to Council Tax Benefit were “sturdy and robust” or not. The amendment was carried with a majority of 38 votes.
North Norfolk will have one of the harshest hits to council tax benefit in the country because the government has ring-fenced funding for the elderly, and because the district has a large aging population. This will mean those currently claiming for the benefit will be expected to pay up to 30pc contribution – harsher than any other area in Norfolk – and one of the worst in the country.
North Norfolk Labour Party has welcomed the government defeat on Monday and will continue to campaign against these proposals. They believe that the recently-announced government £100m transitional government, announced for one year, will only cover up the severity of this policy for a short time.
North Walsham has the largest number of claimants in north Norfolk with 667 people claiming Council Tax Benefit. Cromer Town has 493 claimants and Fakenham has 349 claimants.
Denise Burke, chair of North Norfolk Labour Party, said:
“Next year is going to be one of the toughest years of government cuts yet when changes to the Council Tax Benefit come into place. These proposals have been likened to the Poll Tax where thousands were sent to prison for failing to pay because they could not afford to.
The fact that there will be a Transitional Grant for local councils shows there will be an enormousness impact on the working and the poorest population. Unfortunately it won’t cover the full cost and will only soften the blow to councils for one year before the full hit comes in 2014.
MP Norman Lamb voted for these cuts while supporting a tax cut for millionaires. So while our district council will see one of the biggest cuts to benefits for the working age in the whole country, under his watch, the rich will be getting richer.
We welcome the work that Baroness Hollis has been carrying out in the House of Lords; she is making a huge difference to reduce the impact of this bill.”