Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cornwall Council scare-mongering over council tax benefit impact

Cornwall Council has put out a press release claiming that if council tax benefit is to be fully funded in the future then a wide range of high profile services will have to be cut. They list libraries, leisure services, localism and street lighting in their hit list.

I've got a couple of thoughts on this issue:

First, they seem determined to ignore the vote of the council last week which decided against the imposition of an automatic 25% council tax benefit cut on recipients of working age. The cut to council tax benefits imposed by the government is wrong but Cornwall Council should be seeking to protect the poorest families from being forced into the arms of foodbanks and bailiffs.

Second, their latest idea of how to fund council tax benefit is scare-mongering of the worst sort. They have cherry-picked some of the most high profile services and declared them to be vulnerable to cuts.

The truth is that Cornwall Council currently spends more than £1 million per month on consultants and agency staff. Why are the Tories not suggesting that this amount could be cut by a third to fund the continuation of the full council tax benefit scheme?

The truth is the Cornwall Conservatives are wedded to splashing the cash on expensive consultants for their pet projects. The people who suffer are the poorest households. Council tax benefit is entirely means tested and is given to keep the least well off out of abject poverty.

Neither the Leader of the Council nor the Cabinet member for Finance have bothered to talk to people who rely on council tax benefit and they don't understand the impact their proposals will have. If they did, they would not be proposing such a change. 

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