Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/736/15353
Council tax benefit - new and not improved
Most councils are now in the process of consulting on the Con-Dems' new Council Tax Support Scheme - the new and not improved way council tax benefit will be paid.
Labour councillors told a recent consultation meeting in Nottingham that the fairest thing to do is to cut the benefit for everybody by 20%.
This didn't appear to be 'fair' to the people present at the meeting, some of whom said they are living on less than £50 a week and are being asked to pay between £4 and £10 a week towards their council tax.
People in Plymouth could be forced to pay an extra £249 a year. Liverpool City Council is consulting on whether to cut 17.5% from everyone or make extra budget cuts elsewhere to protect the benefit.
The changes to council tax benefit are planned for around the time when universal credit is introduced.
As part of this, housing benefit is being cut for people living in social housing. If you've got a spare room, you'll receive a 14% cut in your benefit, if you've got two spare rooms it will be 25%.
For those in privately rented accommodation, the local housing allowance (which the amount of housing benefit you receive is linked to) is being frozen too.
That will mean that the amount of benefit you receive will bear no relation to the amount your rent is. Again, you'll be forced to pay an extra £10, £15, £20 a week.
Jobseeker's Allowance is £71 a week (£56.25 a week for under-25s) - how far can this money be stretched? By the time you've topped up your rent and council tax, will there even be any money left for food or other bills? People on low incomes are already struggling. Will there be more parents skipping meals to be able to feed their children?
In December the coalition will decide whether it will freeze benefits or link uprating to earnings - both will be a cut.
Outrageously, in the words of Councillor Chapman, Labour councillor for Bulwell, the most deprived area in Nottingham, there's a food bank down the road if we're hungry and there's a good Credit Union which will provide cheap loans if we can't afford to pay our bills.
These cuts need to be stopped. Unemployed people, people with disabilities and people on low incomes who receive these benefits need to link up with public sector and private sector workers who are fighting to defend their jobs, pay and pensions in a united show of strength against this government - a 24-hour general strike against austerity.
In The Socialist 3 October 2012:
Education news & analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis