At Tuesday’s budget meeting at Bristol City Council, the Conservative councillors will table an amendment that, if passed, would result in a large tax hike for some of the poorest in the city.
Bristol City Council currently helps those on the lowest incomes to pay their Council Tax through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. This helps to counteract the fact that Council Tax itself is regressive (it costs poorer people a larger proportion of their income than richer people).
However, the Conservatives’ proposal would reduce the help that low income households receive – effectively landing them with a big tax rise.
Councillor Carla Denyer, who has long spoken out to protect the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, including a statement to cabinet in July 2016 , explained;
“This horribly regressive proposal doesn’t stand in isolation, it’s part of a pattern. Last year the Greens proposed a 2% council tax precept to fund adult social care, after seeing and making repeated warnings about the massive hole in the budget. We did this at a time when none of the other parties nor the then mayor were brave enough to risk proposing the Adult Social Care precept themselves, in an election year. When we proposed the precept, we were clear that such a large rise in tax would only be acceptable if the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was maintained, to protect the very poorest.
“The Conservatives voted against the Adult Social Care precept, and when it passed despite their opposition, they then voted against the whole budget because of it. This year the precept (now 3%) is already included in the Mayor’s budget, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Conservatives therefore vote against the budget again this year.
“And yet, this latest Tory amendment demonstrates loud and clear that they aren’t opposed to all tax rises, they’re only opposed to tax rises that affect the rich. This amendment would mean a significant tax rise for the very poorest in the city. Whatever you think about how to balance the budget overall, and whether the austerity agenda is justified, there is no excuse for knowingly targeting the city’s very poorest citizens with a policy that will make them even poorer.”
Councillor Fi Hance, the Green Party member on the Council’s Cabinet, added,
“The Conservative amendment is a self-defeating proposal in that it would almost certainly cost as much as it saves. Many of the families and individuals impacted by the cut will simply not be able to afford to pay. As a result they are likely go into arrears with the Council, or become homeless, both of which will cost the Council more in the long run and put even more pressure on budgets such as Adult Social Care”
If the Conservative amendment is passed at Tuesday’s meeting, it will still be subject to a public consultation before it can be brought into force for the financial year 2018/19. Readers who would like to be notified about this and other Council’s consultations can subscribe to updates via https://bristol.citizenspace.com/