Tax discount proposal to be re-analysed after objections

Malvern Gazette: STRATEGIC REVIEW: Coun Tom Wells. STRATEGIC REVIEW: Coun Tom Wells.

PLANS to change a council tax discount scheme will be looked at again after district councillors said it will hit some of the most vulnerable in society.

Members were asked to approve changes to the scheme to achieve savings of £40,000.

Among the proposed changes were counting child benefit and maintenance payments as part of claimants’ incomes, capping payments to claimants with £6,000 or more in savings, stopping payments of £10 per week or less, and stopping backdated payments.

Councillor Sheila Young said: “I cannot let this pass. I can’t vote for it because it will affect some of the poorest in our community.

Child benefit and maintenance are for the child, to pay for things like shoes and school uniforms, and other essentials.

“Life is difficult enough for these people, and it stands to reason that this will make them worse off.”

Coun Val Myatt said: “It puts the pressure on some of the most vulnerable people.”

Head of resources Andy Baldwin said that the measure had to be passed at that meeting, otherwise it would upset the timetable for setting the council budget.

But Lib Dem group leader Tom Wells said that the proposals should be deferred, studied at a briefing for members and brought back to council, with a special meeting being arranged if necessary.

A named vote was taken on the proposal to approve the changes, and it was defeated 16- 15 with five abstentions. Coun Wells’s proposal was then approved.

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