When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Council tax hikes will hit pensioners and families hard
STRUGGLING pensioners and families face being clobbered by a series of council tax hikes.
The older person’s discount has been officially ditched – and low income households currently exempt will also be forced to pay a contribution. From April, pensioners will have to find hundreds of pounds extra after the Labour administration abandoned the ten per cent council tax discount claimed by 8,250 households.
Coupled with a planned two per cent council tax rise next year, over-65s will be billed at least £100 more each year, rising to £248 for pensioners in larger houses.
In a separate development, compulsory Govern-ment changes also saw 15,000 low income residents in Southamp-ton lose their council tax support scheme from 2014.
Those currently paying nothing will now have to pay 25 per cent of their council tax, while those who have part of their bill paid for them will pay 25 per cent more.
The Labour administration said axing the pensioners’ discount was only fair, claiming working households on the breadline were now bearing the brunt of these Government changes.
The changes have seen councils across the country run their own tax support schemes, with ten per cent less Government funding.
But the Tory group condemned scrapping the pensioners’ discount, introduced during its administration, as “attacking the vulnerable”.
Shadow finance boss Councillor John Hannides, speaking as the hikes were passed at full council, said: “What I do know of this Labour group is that once they are in power they are vindictive to the vulnerable and the old age pensioners. They are being pernicious and plain wrong in their proposals.”
Reg Taylor, chairman of the Itchen Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said the tax hikes would make life difficult for young and old across his estate.
He said: “This is going to create a lot of hardship.
“I feel sorry for young families trying to bring up children. It will be nightmare for them, whether both or one is working.”
Concern for deprived and older households was echoed across the city.
Pam Matthews, chairman of the Blackbush, Pembery and Wittering Road Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “It is a double whammy for people. They seem to be taking everything away from vulnerable people. They are going after low income, the elderly and the young.”