Hundreds more households in Cannock Chase may not have to pay council tax

Hundreds more households on low incomes in Cannock Chase may not have to pay council tax in the next financial year.

Cannock Chase District Council
Cannock Chase District Council

Currently full council tax reduction is only available to pensioners, disabled residents or parents of children aged under five, with other low-income households able to claim up to 80% discount on their bill.

But plans to remove this cap to help more people struggling to make ends meet have been backed by Cannock Chase Council cabinet members. If approved by the full council the change would mean 1,900 households would not have to pay any of the council tax charge in the coming financial year.

A report to Thursday’s cabinet meeting said: “The council is very aware that current issues relating to increases in the cost of living and to energy bills are causing difficulties for many households, with those on the lowest incomes being affected the most. In view of this cabinet is asked to recommend that the 80 per cent cap on working age LCTR (local council tax reduction) be removed for the financial year 2023-24.

“This change would directly mean that an additional 1,900 of the poorest, working aged households will have no council tax to pay in that year. The change is requested for one year only with the cap being re-introduced from 1 April 2024.

“Council tax arrears have increased during the past two years as more people have found it difficult to pay their bills. Providing the one-year easement to some of the poorest residents will give those residents and the council an opportunity to address those arrears.”

The change will increase spending on the Local Council Tax Reduction scheme by around £391,000 based on figures for this year, the report added. The district council will be responsible for 12% of that cost – £46,900 – but it is expected to be partly offset by a reduction in irrecoverable debts.

A consultation on the proposed change was carried out – and 35 people said they agreed with with the move to allow working-age households up to 100% council tax discount. But 18 people disagreed.

One said: “All people should get help. I fall in the zero per cent category according to my wage.

“I’m a single parent of two and work full time and have to pay childcare costs which I have to add to as universal credit (doesn’t) cover all my costs. My gas and electric is currently close to £300 per month – this is without the prices going up (in) April along with everything else

“There is no point me working to give a life for my children. I’m working to pay bills with no money left for days outs (or) holidays – it’s disgusting.”

Another said: “How about reduce council tax for all residents because most households are struggling right now even if they are working and have no children. It’s unfair that if you are working and still struggling, you are not entitled to anything, whereas (if) you don’t work and have children you get an awful lot of benefits and hand outs.

“There’s no incentive for these people to work if they can. Maybe reward the ones really trying,working all hours trying to keep their heads above water, roof over their head and the heating on as an added reward.”

Another said: “Make people work and earn their way in life. Stop giving handouts to those who have failed and continue to fail to support themselves.”

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