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Poor families in Dudley face council tax increase

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | News | Published:

The poorest families in a Black Country borough could be made to pay more in council tax - just months after being hit with a two per cent rise.

Dudley Council is planning to make changes to the council tax reduction scheme

Dudley Council is again proposing altering its council tax reduction scheme by making those eligible pay an extra one per cent of the full amount.

The increase will hit struggling low-income families who are given tax discounts due to their financial situation.

Under the proposals, they will have to pay 23 per cent of their council tax - an average of £320 a year.

It will mean an average increase of £14 a year - but comes after a two per cent rise in April.

Before then, families affected had to pay 20 per cent of the bill.

The proposed changes were announced by the Conservative-controlled council’s finance boss Steve Clark, despite him labelling the previous rise ‘very disappointing’ last year when in opposition, as it would affect the ‘most vulnerable’.

The Conservatives took control of the council in May but are now proposing another rise.

Labour councillor David Sparks attacked the Conservatives over the move, saying they were now punishing the poorest after blocking Labour’s plans for a five per cent council tax rise across the board earlier this year.

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He said: “At the budget meeting they opposed our council tax increase.

“At the first opportunity they are increasing the tax burden for some of the poorest in society.”

The proposals will be put to the council’s cabinet tomorrow and, if approved, will go out to public consultation.

Prior to the last increase, two-thirds of people who took part in a consultation about the changes stated they were against the move.

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A total of 113 of 280 people said they ‘strongly disagreed’ with the move and 68 said they disagreed. Only 38 said they ‘strongly agreed’, while 60 said they agreed.

Council tax rose across the Dudley borough by four per cent in April.

Part of the changes also include support for young people leaving care which could see them save money or, in some cases, pay nothing.

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said: “These proposals will go out to public consultation and obviously we will listen to what the consultation brings back.

“For people about to leave care, we are helping these people. We think it’s positive and will offer some help to people so when they leave the care system it is one less thing for them to worry about.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
@RichG_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton

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