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Warning over benefits shake-up
10:10am Wednesday 17th October 2012 in News
THE leader of a North-East council has accused the Government of acting like headless chickens over controversial proposals to shake up the council tax benefit system.
Councillor Bill Dixon, Labour leader of Darlington Borough Council, said the Government had panicked over criticism of its proposal to cut subsidies for council tax benefit “amid the spectre of the poll tax”.
Earlier this year, the Government announced plans to localise council tax from April and cut the grants from which authorities pay council tax benefits by 12 per cent, although pensioners will be exempt.
Each council will be allowed to decide how much of the cut it passes on to claimants, and how much of the burden councils shoulder out of general budgets.
Earlier yesterday, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced a £100m grant to ensure councils do not pass on the worst of the burden to the claimant, amid fears that the poorest working families will be hardest hit by the policy.
Councillor Dixon said: “The spectre of the poll tax is looming large for the Tories. As usual they are throwing money at it. They should have deferred the whole thing for a year and worked it out, instead of panicking like a bunch of headless chickens.”
In a statement, the DCLG said: “As councils draw up their local schemes, it is clear that many are delivering savings without unfairly increasing the burden on those who are currently on benefits.
“Equally, there are some councils which are asking for very large additional contributions from those on benefits.
“The grant will be a simple one, easy to apply for and swiftly paid out, to help those councils who choose to do the right thing.”