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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 October 2012

Council tax benefit - new and not improved

Becci Heagney

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.

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In The Socialist 3 October 2012:

Education news & analysis

Tory education policy: 'This is just about making cuts isn't it?'

Building the fightback in the universities

Suspended student union president continues fight for reinstatement

NUT activists prepare for action

Barnfield College, Luton: Kick private profit out of education

Partial victory for international students at London Metropolitan

No to slave labour in universities

International socialist news and analysis

Europe: Class struggle returns with a bang

South Africa: Solidarity with miners

Algerian war of independence 1954-1962

Socialist Party NHS campaigning

Action against Profit From Illness!

South West NHS workers want action against 'pay cartel'

Save Greater Manchester mental healthcare

Cut the Con-Dems - not our NHS!

Socialist Party workplace news

Bin workers calling indefinite strike brought results

Day of Action to save HMRC nurseries

Crossrail flashmob blocks London's Oxford Street

Arts and culture workers need to fight back

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

The fight of all our lives - For a 24-hour general strike

Councillors must resist all Tory cuts

Thousands march for an independent Scotland

March for Jobs in Scotland

Rape is No Joke campaign discussed

Socialist Party news and analysis

Scotland: Lamont throws Labour Party into crisis

Sickened by Labour conference? Build the anti-cuts alternative!

Council tax benefit - new and not improved

Squatting conviction paves way for rise in homelessness

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