Greens are calling on Bristolians to give their views on the Labour administration’s proposals to cut council tax support for some of the poorest households in the city.
Green Party Councillor Carla Denyer, who helped secure the Mayor’s u-turn when he previously proposed these cuts in 2017, said,
“I know all too well that Council budgets have been brutally cut by 13 years of Tory government austerity and there is no fat left to trim. But of all the cuts, cutting funding for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme must be one of the cruellest. It affects the very lowest income households the most. It will likely make people go hungry, and would inevitably see visits from bailiffs imposed on the poorest in Bristol, as those already under immense pressure due to cost of living increases are simply unable to pay. It will make some homeless. This is why Greens strongly opposed Labour’s previous proposals to cut the scheme.
“The Cost of Living Crisis is still biting hard. Two pieces of recent research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation put it in black and white: 5.7 million low-income households are having to cut down or skip meals, and the Universal Credit standard allowance is at least £35 too low to cover basic costs, meaning that 90% of low-income households on Universal Credit are currently going without essentials.
“Cutting the Council Tax Reduction Scheme will target these very same people with yet more inequality and suffering. In my view these are the very last people that we as a Council should be asking to pay more, and we can’t afford to make any cuts to this vital support scheme. So whether you receive Council Tax support yourself or you just recognise the importance of the Council supporting the poorest in the city, please take a few minutes to respond to the consultation to let the Council know what you think.”
The consultation opened on 1 August and closes on 25 September – it is available at https://www.ask.bristol.gov.uk/council-tax-reduction-scheme-2024-25. The Council is consulting on options because in February this year the Labour administration introduced a £3m cut to the support scheme in the budget, which Greens did not support.
Councillor Patrick McAllister, who sits on the Council’s Resources Scrutiny Committee said,
“I am concerned that as well as the impact on the poorest households in Bristol, the proposed cuts also risk damaging the local economy. It is obvious that taking even more money out of the wallets of the people who already have the least economic security in our city will force them to reduce their spending. This will have a knock-on effect on local businesses, potentially causing a decline in employment and future council tax and business rate income for the Council. Worryingly, the Council has not been able to estimate the severity of this impact, meaning the administration is implementing this policy blind, without an understanding of its full effects.”
Councillor Heather Mack, the Green Group’s Finance lead, added:
“This consultation presents a lot of difficult options. I hope that everyone likely to be impacted by the change will take part in the consultation to let the council know how these changes would impact them.”