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Council Tax Support

Volume 569: debated on Monday 21 October 2013

7. What recent assessment he has made of the effects on people on low incomes of council tax support schemes. (900555)

These are local schemes and it is therefore for local authorities to ensure that the effect on low-income council tax payers is proportionate and fair. This coalition Government have made a £100 million transition grant available to help councils to develop well designed schemes and maintain incentives to work.

That is a pittance. Last week the Minister said on the BBC that he was making sure that councils have the ability and the money to protect the most vulnerable people from his council tax benefit changes. How many of the vulnerable—the disabled, carers, war veterans and war widows—have been affected by the policies he has imposed on the nation?

As I said, these are local schemes. I can confirm to the hon. Gentleman that under Labour spending on council tax benefit hit £4 billion a year, costing hard-working families almost £180 a year and costing more than education, defence and health combined. This Government are dealing with the mess of the economic deficit and debt left by his party’s Government.

Does the Minister believe that disabled people being summonsed to court, three-bedroom houses that cannot be let and poor people having to choose between paying their council tax bill and eating constitutes a success? If so, what would constitute a failure?

Failure would be going back to the policies of the old Labour Government, when council tax and spending on council tax benefit doubled, costing hard-working families about £180 a year each. That is exactly why this Government have put in £100 million to help councils have the time and space to develop good schemes to protect the most vulnerable, which they have a duty to do, and it is also why we have protected pensioners.