A charity has criticised Barnet Borough Council’s decision to reduce council tax support.
People receiving the support – which helps people on low incomes and benefits pay their council tax bill – will have to pay 20 per cent rather than the current 8.5 per cent after the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Hugh Rayner, used his casting vote to push the proposal through at a council meeting on Tuesday.
A band D council taxpayer who receives the support currently has to make a £119 contribution for the 2014/15 financial year.
Under a 20 per cent contribution rate, they would have to pay £280.21.
Joanna Kennedy, chief executive of Z2K, a charity that campaigns on poverty, said: “We are genuinely shocked that the civic Mayor of Barnet used his casting vote to push through such a huge increase in council tax bills for thousands of disabled and unemployed residents.
“Barnet’s ruling group takes great pride in its low council tax rates, yet while the borough’s richest residents will be enjoying a freeze in their rates next year, its poorest will now be struggling to cope with a more than doubled bill. How can that be fair?
“We have spoken to hundreds of residents on the streets of Barnet while campaigning against this and heard how they will struggle to cope with the increased bill. We would like to thank the nearly 400 residents who signed the petition against the increase and assure them that we will continue to fight Barnet’s new poll tax.”
Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, said it seemed a sensible move, which would bring Barnet broadly in line with the contribution rates charged by other London boroughs.
Although Cllr Cornelius said that he was happy to pledge increasing support for discretionary funding, he explained that the council had not needed to use the money available in the past.