Exclusively reported in an Independent article, more than two million of the poorest people in England are facing rising council tax demands this year because of fresh Government cuts to the benefit system, new figures reveal.

War widows, carers and the disabled are among 2.31 million people who used to be entitled to council tax benefit but have now had their support substantially reduced or taken away altogether.{jcomments on}

As a result, significant numbers of families have been pushed into debt, with a survey revealing that nearly 16,000 people in London alone have been referred to the bailiffs for non-payment.

Freedom of Information requests sent by Labour to all local authorities in England reveal that 409,000 disabled people have seen their council tax increase, while 112,000 carers have also been hit.

Around 3,600 recipients of pensions relating to being a war widow or a disabled veteran as a result of service in the Armed Forces have seen their council tax increase.

Council Tax Benefit used to provide nearly £5bn of support to 5.9 million people.

Recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that the shake-up reduced entitlement for 2.5 million working households by an average of £160 in the last financial year.
Some 70 per cent of authorities asked for a minimum payment and only 20 per cent found the money to maintain the previous level of support.

Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hilary Benn said the changes had “already caused misery for hundreds of thousands of the poorest people, driving them into courts and into debt”.

“This is the Government effectively raising taxes for the very poorest. The bedroom tax has already hit thousands of disabled people. This additional burden is simply adding to the problems faced by disabled people. ”

Read the full story in the Independent


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