UK Politics

Council tax rise for low-income families

Council tax bill
Image caption Many low-income families in England face a rise in council tax from April

Millions of the poorest families in England could see council tax bills rise by up to £600 a year from April, research suggests.

Resolution Foundation says as a result of council tax benefit reform, three-quarters of local authorities will demand increased payments from households who currently pay either no council tax or a reduced charge.

The government hands responsibility for council tax support to England's 326 local authorities today, along with a 10% cut in it's funding. You have been sharing your stories of what this could mean for you.

Nigel Phillips, Ilkeston, Derbyshire - unemployed

Image caption Nigel Phillips says he struggles to pay his bills, which currently do not include council tax

I have moved into a smaller property because I would get my benefits cut by £10 a week just for having a spare room.

Currently I receive just £71 per week in benefits, my only income at the moment as I'm unemployed.

I receive job seekers allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit of 100%.

However, my outgoings are high I have to pay out for electricity, gas, water, my TV licence, my phone and food.

I could not afford a cut to the council tax benefit. I just would not be able to cope. I have been unemployed for nearly a year after being made redundant.

I apply on average for 30 jobs a week and I am lucky if I get any response whatsoever. I'm not unemployed through choice. The government seem to be doing everything in their power to make the poorest families in the UK suffer.

They are supposed to help and support the people of the UK not throw them to the lions.

After paying bills and buying food I find it difficult to even buy toiletries let alone any new clothes and that's before this is introduced. I have worked all my life from leaving school and never been on any benefits until I lost my job.

The government are thinking people just don't want to work and so are cutting benefits to make people work, but they are doing nothing to create the jobs for people to be able to come off benefits and get back to work.

Malcolm Powell, Adlington, Lancashire - full-time carer

I am a full time carer for my disabled wife. We currently receive income support because we have no income as neither of us can work. We receive this once a fortnight after they changed it from once a week - even that was a struggle to start with but we just about manage now.

We receive a carer's allowance once a week which we rely on. We receive about £200 per week on benefits which keeps us going - from that we have to pay energy bills, get food and as we don't get enough money in housing benefit we have to pay money towards rent.

I'm not sure if my council tax benefit will be cut but I hope not. We get the full benefit at the moment and don't pay council tax, if we did I could not afford it, it is as simple as that.

I even asked my local MP about whether our council would make these changes he said he doesn't know. It seems like no-one knows at this stage but it is very worrying.

Michael Brown, Southampton, Hampshire - home owner

As a unemployed private home owner, the prospect of having to pay any council tax is very worrying. I am unemployed, on jobseekers allowance and get the full council tax benefit, so I pay no council tax.

I have barely enough money to pay the bills and buy food as it is. Any addition to my monthly out goings could lead to me losing my home.

If that were to happen, I would then have to apply for a council property and become a greater burden to the council. I believe any cut in council tax benefit could ultimately cost the council more.

I did receive a letter from my council saying from April I could have to start paying council tax, but I am not sure how much money per month this would be. If it was £20 I might be able to cope, but if it was £80 there is no way I would have the money.

I understand the government needs to make cuts and therefore this means local councils have to pass these on, but I think cutting the council tax benefit is not the right way to go about it and it will ultimately end up costing government and local government more money in the long run.

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