‘Disabled punished by changes to tax’
Labour councillors say vulnerable are ‘shouldering burden’
LABOUR has accused the Tories in Hillingdon of punishing ‘low earners and the disabled’ with higher council tax.
Opposition councillors reacted with fury after the borough Conservatives approved changes to the council tax benefits at a full council meeting on Thursday, January 14.
The changes mean residents on benefits, including disabled households, will no longer have the full cost of their council tax covered by the
The Uxbridge Gazette Series borough and will be asked to pay 10 per cent.
Cllr Tony Eginton (Barnhill ward) put forward a Labour amendment to stop these changes.
Cllr Peter Curling (Townfield ward) supported the move saying it was needed by ‘those in most need of help’.
He said: “They are the ones shouldering the financial burden of being unable to afford to heat their homes and needing to use food banks to feed their families.
“They are now having increased council tax when everyone else is having their council tax charges frozen.”
The Labour amendment was voted down though with only one Conservative Councillor, Shehryar Ahmad-Wallana, siding with the Labour group in opposing the changes.
An outraged Cllr Curling branded the vote ‘an example of the nasty Tory party in action’.
He added: “The poorest and most vulnerable residents in our borough have just been kicked in the teeth by their council.”
Cllr Eginton added: “The leader of the council stated that this is Tory party policy. So it is quite clear that he is putting party politics before the poorest and most vulnerable residents.
“This is penalising people just because they are poor or ill – so much for putting residents first, which the Tories claim.”
Pensioners and war widow households are protected by legislation and will continue to pay the same, but households on low incomes will see their council tax rise by five per cent.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot, who leads Hillingdon’s Tory administration, hit back.
He said: “I would not trust the Labour Group in Hillingdon with the finances of a whelk stall, let alone a London borough.
“As usual, they show no idea of understanding the costs involved and their suggestion that we raise the council tax year on year for every household to cover a reduction in central government funding of the council tax benefit is a clear example of publicity seeking incompetence.
“Hillingdon Council has not suffered the cuts in services and facilities that other councils have because we have a Tory administration with a sound understanding and good management of financial issues.”
Cllr Puddifoot said action would need to be taken to tackle the deficit, which would be £6 million come 2020 if nothing was done.
He added: “In Harrow, residents will pay £636 more than somebody in Hillingdon – it’s something we need to do as part of managing the books.”
n BENEFITS CLASH: