Low income families in Stockton could face a 20% cut to their council tax benefit if the Tory-led Government succeeds in pushing through its Local Government Finance Bill.
Local MP Alex Cunningham challenged the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, in the Commons on the proposed cuts which will see more than one million low paid workers in the UK experiencing a loss of around £320 per year- a significant sum at a time when they are already facing a rise in VAT, as well as higher food and energy bills.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has also predicted that as a result of the changes in council tax benefit, individual councils could reduce the benefits to such an extent that it would encourage low-income people to move out of their area, bringing about the ‘social cleansing’ of many of our towns and cities.
During the Committee stage of the Bill, Alex told the Commons:
“David Cameron has said over and over again that he is going to reform the benefits system to ‘make work pay’. However these cuts to council tax benefit is simply yet another attack on hard working families.
“In many cases the gains made by low income workers from the recent £1000 increase in the personal allowance for income tax will be completely wiped out by the reduction in council tax benefit.
“In these harsh economic times, with high unemployment and rising energy and food bills, this tax relief will be squeezed precisely at the point at which there is the most need for help amongst low income households.
“Removing Council tax benefits for these vulnerable people is not the answer.”