Greens have shared their dismay following the Labour Council’s plans to push ahead with its 33% increase in the amount of council tax paid by the city’s poorest households, amid revelations on Monday that council officers are now asking some low income families to move out of Brighton and Hove.
This approach to supporting low-income families was revealed in the report to the Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equality Committee , which explored the current and predicted future impacts of the regressive welfare reform measures introduced by the Conservative national government.
Green councillors had proposed to the committee that it should call to a halt the councils plans to increase council tax paid by the city’s poorest households at a significantly greater rate than proposed for higher income households. However, the motion was rejected by an alliance of Labour and Conservative Councillors.
Councillor Leo Littman, spokesperson for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equality, said:
“Squeezed by welfare reforms, cuts to public services, and rising living costs, our poorest residents are simply being told: ‘you’re too poor to live here anymore.’
“The report to the committee made clear that these residents include many low-paid, working families with local connections to Brighton and Hove, who are struggling to pay ever increasing rents.
“We are appalled that Labour councillors are once again siding with the Tories, and pushing through a council tax reduction scheme which will further compound the financial difficulties faced by the poorest households, while protecting the city’s highest earners. It is highly likely to tip low income families over the edge, at which point they will be told to leave the city.
Councillor David Gibson said:
“There isn’t much the council can do to alleviate the vindictive squeeze on the poorest people in our city from national government, but we could have all stood together to not hike up the council tax of the poorest 15,000 in our city by any more than anyone else. I was very disappointed that Labour and the Tories decided not to do this. We will keep on pressing to block this poor tax.”
“We are told Labour stands for fairness, but what is fair about increasing the percentage of council tax paid by the poorest by more than other tax payers? This will further squeeze the incomes of the poorest who have already lost over £2000 under the gov’ts so called welfare reform”
“In the last few months we have seen this Labour council side with the Conservatives time and time again. They talk of fairness but I’m beginning to wonder if that is just spin? Hitting the incomes of the poorest in our city is not what I would call fair or what the new labour leader would want the labour party to be doing. It’s time for them to prove that like their leader, local Labour are not simply Tories of a different colour, by standing up for low income families.”