BURNLEY’S most vulnerable residents will suffer under government reforms to council tax benefit.
That is the concern of councillors from all parties over a consultation paper which will abolish council tax benefit and require the council to cut its spending on council tax support by 10% from April 2013.
At the latest meeting of Burnley Council, council leader Coun. Charlie Briggs said: “These proposals will create an additional financial problem for the council, transfer financial risk and budget cuts from central to local government and impact on some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
As many as 11,000 benefit claimants in Burnley will be affected by the tax hike, announced by Communities Secretary Mr Eric Pickles.
Coun. Briggs said he had met Mr Pickles before the summer recess to voice his concerns and asked MP Gordon Birtwistle to lobby for change to the legislation.
Burnley’s Conservative group leader Coun. Peter Doyle added: “I will not just support what the Government in London wants to do. They do make mistakes. Anybody who is going to do anything will make mistakes.
“This is unworkable. If people can’t pay it, the council will be expected to take them to court and that will cost money. I do support the reductions in benefits but this will not work.”
Labour Coun. Mark Townsend added: “It will cost people in Burnley an absolute fortune they can’t afford.”