Struggling families to be hit by higher council tax bills

The poorest households living in three quarters of local authorities in England will see a huge hike in their council tax bills according to new research.

From April local authorities will be handed responsibility for council tax subsidies aimed at struggling families. The subsidy was previously dealt with at a national level but as George Osborne attempts to strike expenditure from his books, the coalition plan is to wash their hands of it and place the burden on often cash strapped councils.

As funding is cut by 10%, councils have been told to either continue the subsidies and make cuts elsewhere to pay for them, or force minimum wage earners and households with no working adult to pay up. Faced with an unpalatable choice, three quarters of local authorities have predictably opted to shift the hardship onto the hard up.

The Resolution Foundation surveyed councils and found that while some hoped to accommodate the new weight of financial responsibility by cutting other budgets (with unforeseen consequences) , 74% were clear that however reluctantly, they would be passing on the bills to households. In the worst cases, bills could rise by £600 a year, but for the most part, the councils will be looking to compromise to some extent and not suddenly demand full payment.

As April heralds the onset of radical cuts, millions of people who are already hovering close to the poverty line will be hit harder than ever. “Millions of England's poorest households are already very close to the edge given falling wages, tax credits and benefits," said Gavin Kelly, the foundation's chief executive, warning most "find it hard to cope" when the bills arrived. "The new system will result in hard-pressed councils spending scarce resources chasing some of the poorest people in the country for non-payment."

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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