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Wolverhampton council cuts to hit thousands

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

More than 20,000 people in Wolverhampton will be hit with bills of up to £200 a year under a new wave of council cuts revealed today.

Charges for some services could also rise, while there will be a recruitment freeze for staff, a blitz on sickness rates and a reduction in the use of agency staff.

The city council had been planning to absorb a £3.4 million cut in government funding to pay council tax benefit to people of working age.

But bosses today pulled the plug and revealed they would have to pursue people who were previously eligible to have their council tax paid for them. The bill will amount to around 20 per cent of a normal annual council tax demand.

It comes as the council revealed its savings target for the next five years had risen from £44m to £56.6m.

Other measures due to be enforced next year include a possible 10 per cent rise in fees and charges for some council services, a recruitment freeze and a tighter control of sickness absence.

The proposed cuts so far amount to almost £9m but Labour finance councillor Andrew Johnson warned there was still a £10.3m hole to fill in 2013/14, with more cuts still to be drawn up.

He said: "We went out to consultation on continuing to give council tax benefit despite a government cut.

"We're now having to work on a new recommendation to pass on the cut to claimants who would previously have been entitled to council tax benefit."

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Around 35,000 people claim council tax benefit but 42 per cent of these are pensioners and would not be affected by the change.

The cut relates to 20,300 working age people.

Neighbouring South Staffordshire Council is also planning to pass on the government cut to residents.

By Political Editor Daniel Wainwright

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