Changes to benefit system means more people in South Kesteven will pay council tax

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Changes to the benefit system which will mean fewer people will be exempt from council tax have been adopted by the district council.

People of working age not classed as being in a vulnerable group will now have to pay at least 20 per cent of their council tax bill, even if they were previously exempt.

Leader of South Kesteven District Council Linda Neal (Con), who represents Bourne, said the changes were necessary because the council faced a funding shortfall from the Government as a result of the benefit system changes of at least 10 per cent.

Speaking at a recent full council meeting, Coun Neal said: “Whilst this is not ideal, I think it is one of the best as we are proposing that if you are eligible for full tax benefits at the moment, you will still get 80 per cent in the new scheme. There are several schemes in Lincolnshire saying 75 per cent.”

The Government has ordered every council in the country must adopt a scheme which will incentivise employment and make work pay while taking 
into account the needs of vulnerable groups.

The council’s new scheme was criticised by Labour councillors but Coun Neal insisted: “The cake is only so big...there is less money to go around and we can’t magic money out of thin air.”

She added: “We will make sure everyone feels it a little and no particular group feels the pain too much. Everyone is struggling, but we genuinely believe we have done everything we can to protect people who need the support the most.”

Labour councillor Phil Dilks said not enough thought had been put into the scheme which he described as a “car crash waiting to happen”.

He said: “The Government say we are all in this together but the Government’s priority is not to help little people but the millionaires.”

Coun Mike Taylor (Con) said Labour councillors did not attend policy development meetings where the proposals were discussed.

He said: “Had they bothered to come along to these meetings they could have proposed an alternative scheme but no, they wait until the 11th hour and then make an issue.

“That’s not supporting your people properly, that’s grandstanding.”