Conference hears council tax benefit changes are not cricket

“Steady on Gid-e-on,” said Glen Williams from the service group executive. “It’s not E-ton – and it’s not cricket.

“Come on, Cam-e-ron,” he added, as he proposed a motion on council tax benefit, calling for a fair system of council tax support.

In a rousing speech, he lambasted the government’s approach, and also called for consideration of “a land value tax” and other, fair taxation measures.

Conference heard of the chaos throughout England (but not Wales or Scotland) following changes to the benefit and the demands on more people to pay part of the tax, where once they would have been exempt.

Daniel Goodwin from Stockport told delegates “a little story”, about how his own mother, as a single parent, had refused to accept benefits, and instead driven forward in a career to support her family.

But when two siblings were diagnosed with disabilities, she had to give up her job in order to care for them. Now, she faces an additional council tax bill.

He concluded by saying that it was yet more evidence that the government was attacking “the most vulnerable in our societies.”

And he urged delegates to: “Stand up against these attacks.”

Clare Atkinson from Sefton Council told delegates how the changes to council tax bills are now landing on the door mats of her members.

She added that staff had received just half a day training to deal with the changes. For those in the help centres, on top of worrying about the targets they have to meet, they are now facing increased abuse as local people find the system stretched almost to breaking.

Conference backed the motion, and called for “proposals on the future direction of local government finance that secure buoyancy, equalisation, local democratic accountability and determination, progressive distribution, minimisation of avoidance and maximisation of ease if collection”.