Thursday, 20 September 2012

Guest blog: Leader of #rdg council on council tax benefit abolition

Letter to local press:
Dear Sir,

I see  that Tory Councillor David Stevens is indignant about the Council’s consultation on the abolition of Council Tax Benefit, claiming that “To say, as Reading Borough Council are, that the government is  ‘abolishing’ Council Tax Benefit is at best a misrepresentation of what is going on and at worst scaremongering.”

Perhaps Cllr. Stevens would like to explain how come then Section 33 (1) (e) of the Welfare Reform Act (for which of course both Rob Wilson and Alok Sharma voted) provides explicitly for the abolition of Council Tax Benefit?   Abolition of Council Tax Benefit is how it was talked about in Parliament, and there seems no reason why that should not be how it is known to residents.

I suppose he hopes that by complaining about the language used he will distract attention from the fact that not only is the government abolishing the national scheme and telling local councils to make up their own scheme, pretending this is somehow about “Localism”, but it is also cutting the funding to Councils by 10%.(£1.2million in Reading’s case, on top of all the other cuts in Government Grants). Pensioners are exempt and rightly so, but that means everyone else over 18 and under pensionable age ( 61years and 6 months from next April) will bear the brunt of this latest government attack on the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities and those on very low incomes.

 Many other Councils, not just Reading, are consulting about their replacement schemes following the abolition of Council Tax Benefit, including a number that are Conservative-controlled. It is about time Cllr. Stevens and his Tory Colleagues stopped defending the damage their Government is doing and joined with me and other Council Leaders of all political persuasions in standing up for local people by telling the Government it has got this wrong.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Jo Lovelock,
Labour Leader of Reading Borough Council