As reported by News OnTheWight on Wednesday evening, Isle of Wight residents struggling to pay their council tax will have a smaller subsidy in the next year.
Instead of the 70 per cent discount offered by the Isle of Wight Council under the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS), in 2021/22 the council will only offer 65 per cent.
The council has already signalled next year could see a significant tax increase for all residents.
Wednesday’s full meeting of the Isle of Wight Council, agreed the cut to 65 per cent in an effort to save £336,000.
Before the changes to the LCTRS were approved, councillors made passionate pleas not to reduce the support.
Motion to retain 70 per cent put forward
Cllr Andrew Garratt (LibDem) proposed to keep the support at 70 per cent.
“It is not a time to move a scheme that would hit those that have been hardest hit even harder, that is not fair. Some would describe it as cruel.
“I am sure none of the members of the council would want to intentionally and deliberately be that but acceptance of this recommendation would be just that.”
Cllr Garratt appealed to the majority Conservative councillors, saying they would not be doing a disservice to their party by supporting him but they would do a tremendous disservice to those in need if they did not approve his motion.
Fuller: Trying to raise money from people who can ill afford it
Cllr Paul Fuller (Island Indie), said those on LCTRS are usually working,
“It’s unfair and mean that we are focusing on trying to raise a few savings from people who can ill afford it.”
Cllr Geoff Brodie (Ind Lab) said he thought it was hypocritical the council had approved a pay policy which pays senior managers over six figures yet they are prepared to penalise people a few pounds when that money is important to be able to feed themselves.
Hutchinson: We have to spread the butter more thinly
Cabinet member for the Covid recovery and strategic finance, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson (Con), said reducing the scheme was one of the most difficult decisions the council has to take.
“We are already seeing a substantial increase in the number of claims for support and if we are not able to put more money into the system then what we have to do is to spread the butter more thinly.
“We still have of course a very substantial hardship fund so those who are in true need can still be protected.”
Cllr Garratt’s amendment fell, with 17 only votes in favour compared to 20 against and two abstentions.
Underused exceptional hardship fund
An exceptional hardship fund is available for those who need help from the council (more information can be found here), but councillors worried the bar was set too high.
Figures, provided by Cllr Garratt, showed out of the £160,000 fund the council has, only £34,865 was given out, with 88 of 167 applications approved last year.
Drop in Government funding
When the local council tax support scheme was introduced in April 2013, authorities received funding from government to replace the money lost from the lack of income.
Since then, that funding has significantly reduced, effectively cut by £6.4 million, and in the coming financial year 2021/22 it is expected a funding gap of £3.23 million will be left.
It is also expected more people will join the LCTRS as the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt.
Cllr Brian Tyndall (Con), cabinet member for corporate resources, said while it is was a balancing act supplying services to all residents without hurting others — the changes to the scheme will also change the way universal credit affects those on LCTRS.
The LCTRS changes were passed with 21 votes for, 16 against with one abstention.
- Cllr Axford (Con)
- Cllr Bertie (Con)
- Cllr Beston (Con)
- Cllr Brading (Con)
- Cllr Cameron (Con)
- Cllr Churchman (Con)
- Cllr Hastings (Con)
- Cllr Hendry (Con)
- Cllr Hobart (Con)
- Cllr Hollis (Con)
- Cllr Hutchinson (Con)
- Cllr Kilpatrick (Con)
- Cllr Nicholson (Con)
- Cllr Outlaw (Con)
- Cllr Peace (Con)
- Cllr Price (Con)
- Cllr Quirk (Con)
- Cllr Stewart (Con)
- Cllr Tyndall (Con)
- Cllr Ward (Con)
- Cllr Whittle (Con)
- Cllr Andre (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Downer (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Fuller (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Howe (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Lilley (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Medland (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Peacey-Wilcox (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Jones-Evans (Indie Members Group)
- Cllr Love (Indie Members Group)
- Cllr Brodie (Ind Lab)
- Cllr Stephens (Island Indie Network)
- Cllr Barry (LibDem)
- Cllr Garratt (LibDem)
- Cllr Murwill (Ind)
- Cllr Perks (Ind)
- Cllr Smart (Island Indie Group)
- Cllr Mosdell (Con)
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may have been made by OnTheWight. Ed