Sutton Council set to approve plans to cut council tax help
Hundreds of people look set to have their eligibility for help paying their council tax cut after councillors reached an "uncomfortable" decision.
Councillors have given their backing to a cost cutting scheme which will see fewer people get help paying their council tax from next April after the Government scrapped council tax benefit and cut the grants it pays to Sutton Council.
The scheme will also hit the pockets of second homes owners and unoccupied houses.
Members of the council's strategy and resources committee approved a plan drawn up by its officers to cope with the changes last night but several said the new arrangements did not sit well with them.
The Government's Welfare Support Act, approved in March, scrapped council tax benefit. Under that arrangement there were national standards for entitlement. Instead, from April, local authorities will administer council tax support - locally devised strategies to help people with their payments. However, the grant the council will be using will be 10 per cent - £1.4m - smaller than the amount the Government paid out under the old scheme.
The council has come up with a scheme which will cut the amount of council tax benefit paid by just over £1.2m per year with the rest of the shortfall being met by the Greater London Authority.
Under the new scheme maximum payments will be capped at band D, customers with savings of more than £10,000 will not be entitled to support, child benefit will be taken into account when considering eligibility, the second person rebate will be scrapped, non-working households must contribute £3.55 per week and non-dependant contributions will be increased by 40 per cent.
The council has also removed an exemption for owners of unoccupied homes and discounts for second homes.
Committee members reluctantly gave their backing to the scheme at last night's meeting meaning it is likely to be passed at the next full council meeting in January.
Liberal Democrat Councillor John Drage said: "I regret that national council tax benefit has been scrapped by a Government and that my party is a part of. This has little to do with localism."
Coun Dave Callaghan described the decision as uncomfortable and Coun Adrian Davey said it does not sit well with him.