Twickenham MP Vince Cable has joined Citizens Advice and other local charities in deploring the council’s decision to impose a 15% minimum council tax charge on the most vulnerable residents who were hitherto exempted from the charge.
Five years ago the government devolved decisions on council tax support to local authorities. For three years Richmond, together with several neighbouring authorities (Kingston, Hammersmith, Merton, Kensington and Chelsea), did not impose any charge on low income residents in receipt of benefits (other than some disability benefits whose recipients are exempt from the charge). Then last year (2016/17) Richmond introduced a 5% charge. It now proposes to raise it to 15%.
The council’s justification is that government support to the council has been cut but there is no evidence to support this, the charities claim. Richmond Citizens Advice has produced a report showing how great hardship is already being caused and it will get much worse.
Vince Cable MP said:
“This action by the council is harsh and flies in the face of clear evidence that it will force many families who are just coping at present into serious debt and distress leading in some cases to rent arrears and eviction or the lack of basic essentials.”