Our Response to Lambeth's Consultation on their Council Tax Support Scheme

1 September 2017

Read our response to the Council Tax Support Scheme consultation, which can be found here on Lambeth Council's website. If you agree with any of the points we have raised, feel free to adapt our response to make your own submission. The consultation closes on Sunday 3rd September at 12pm (noon). 

 

1a. Tell us why you support OR do not support this change:

We believe this change is unfair, and of all of the proposals this is the most potentially damaging. Non-dependants may not make any contribution to the household’s income, they may not disclose their earnings and incomes and they may move in and out of the household over time. The current system already makes non-dependant deductions, which we believe are a balanced way of taking non-dependants’ earnings into accounts.


Furthermore, including non-dependants’ earnings as part of the household’s income will override the policy of not making non-dependant deductions when there is a disabled adult in house. To do so would discourage people from living with those who need care, something which we believe the benefit system should actively encourage. You state that “Registered disabled people would be much more likely to be affected. Many disabled people are currently protected from non-dependant deductions. This change would remove this protection to create equality between disabled and non-disabled people.” Calling this equality is disingenuous and akin to suggesting that the gender pay gap should be fixed by lowering men’s wages. We doubt that disabled people hit with this extra charge will feel liberated or empowered.


We suggest you strongly consider the impact this proposal will have on the 5,000 households you identify. While the pressure you are under from central government cuts is clear, the protection of these individuals should be top priority.

 

2. To what extent do you support our proposal to change the way we calculate Council Tax liability?

Strongly do not support


2a. Tell us why you support OR do not support this change:

We are strongly opposed to these changes. As can be seen from the consultation, they would affect anyone outside of a protected group, i.e. single parents and couples with children. We would suggest expanding the type of protected groups to include all parents with children receiving council tax support. Those who are eligible for council tax support are already earning little enough and should not be pushed further into poverty.


3. To what extent do you support increasing the amount of Council Tax you will need to pay to 20% of the bill if you are not in a protected group?

Strongly do not support


3a. To what extent do you support increasing the amount of Council Tax you will need to pay to 25% of the bill if you are not in a protected group?

Strongly do not support


3b. To what extent do you support increasing the amount of Council Tax you will need to pay to 30% of the bill if you are not in a protected group?

Strongly do not support


3c. Tell us why you support OR do not support these possible changes:

As stated above, those who are eligible for council tax support are already earning little enough and should not be pushed further into poverty.



4. To what extent do you support reducing Council Tax support backdating to four weeks?

Strongly do not support


4a. Tell us why you support OR do not support this change:

We are opposed to reducing backdating to one month because in our experience, it tends to be families and individuals who are most vulnerable who fail to claim their benefits on time. Given the great deal of bureaucracy required to provide evidence for benefits, the length of backdating should not be reduced.



5. To what extent do you support reducing the capital cut off to £6,000?

Strongly do not support


5a. Tell us why you support OR do not support this change:

We believe this reduction to £6,000 is too steep. It is unfair to punish those who are struggling but have had the foresight to save.



6. Please use the box below to make any other comments or suggest alternative changes you think we should consider:

The standard choices on a likert scale are ‘Strongly support, Support, Neither support nor oppose, Oppose, Strongly Oppose’. The rephrasing of the last of these options as ‘Neither support nor do not support, Do not support, Strongly do not support’ are biased and contrary to fair and transparent consultation. ‘Do not support’ is much softer than ‘Oppose’ and will result in a consultation report which diminishes any potential opposition to the proposals.






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