Campaigners to hold protest today against Council Tax benefit changes in Brent
PUBLISHED: 15:47 20 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:47 20 January 2014
Campaigners will be staging a protest against controversial changes to the Council Tax benefit scheme ahead of the borough’s budget meeting this evening.
Brent Housing Action (BHA) together with Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group Unite and Community will lobby the council outside the civic centre about the plans which could force residents on benefits pay 20 per cent of their Council Tax bill.
Currently a majority of residents in receipt of selective benefits are not liable for any of their bill.
The move has been made after the government abolished the Council Tax benefit scheme, which the town hall claims have left them with a £6million black hole.
Robin Sivapalan from BHA, said: “People do not support this tax scheme and we will not hesitate to voice our concerns to the people in charge.”
Ms Sivapalan wants the council to follow in the example of Tower Hamlets and other boroughs, which have chosen not to tax those on benefits.
He added: “It is one thing forcing people to deal with the cuts in services but approaching people on benefits, who do not have the money to pay council tax, is completely wrong.”
The groups have also accused council chefs of leaving borough residents in the dark over plans aimed at recouping council tax from those receiving state benefits.
In November, the council put into motion a scheme which saw more than 3,000 residents summoned to Willesden Magistrates’ Court for Council Tax arrears.
Critics claim the new policy they are punishing the most vulnerable members of the community.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council said people have gotten the “wrong end of the stick” and that a consultation had been carried out for them to voice their concern.
He said: “It is only an amendment to last year’s scheme and we are proposing to protect more individuals who can’t afford to pay council taxes.”
Adding that it would cost £4m to implement BHA’s proposals, he said: “We’ve had our budget slashed by the government and we need to ensure other key areas such as childcare and social housing are not left wanting.”
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