Council Scheme to Penalise the Vulnerable
Exemptions from the new Council Tax Support Schemes to be introduced by Stoke on Trent City Council in April are only applicable to those in receipt of Income Support (Severe Disability Premium) or ESA (Support Component) according to their draft scheme.
The new Council tax rates are one of the highest in the country and are set to inflict further misery on an already penurious community.
Other councils in England are absorbing the cash cuts and cutting costs elsewhere.
The reality of the situation is that many of the disabled who have been taken off Income Support (with the Disability Premium) and placed on the new lower rate of ESA will face the double whammy of paying council tax charges too.
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The 'unofficial disabled' (many of those on ESA and liable for council tax) also face the added pressure of repeated form filling and appeals which is taking its toll and incurring severe stress on those with on-going mental health problems.
This unfair Council Tax, reminiscent of Thatcher's notorious Poll Tax of 1990 is not just applicable to those unwaged. Those on low pay have been hit too.
The minimum percentage of council tax non-protected working age claimants will be expected to pay at least 35% of the bill.
This means that the maximum amount of Council Tax Support anybody can claim is 65% of the band D charge (this means that anybody living in a property whose Council Tax band is higher than Band D will only be able to claim up to 65% of the Band D charge).
In addition, the amount of capital that a person can have and still claim Council Tax Support will be restricted to £6,000 (was £16,000) and Child Benefit is to be counted as income (which was disregarded before).
The under 25s and Full-Time students should still be expected to receive 100% support.
Staffordshire County Council is to publish its draft scheme (thought to be not dissimilar to that of Stoke on Trent) in March.