‘Dis­abled pun­ished by changes to tax’

Labour coun­cil­lors say vul­ner­a­ble are ‘shoul­der­ing bur­den’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

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:

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