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East Lancashire council tax help cuts 'attack poor'
THOUSANDS of residents of East Lancashire will be paying between £150 and £200 extra each year as part of a major council tax benefits shake-up.
In a sweeping reform of the benefits system, town halls are being given the responsiblity for collecting the handout from April.
But while some have taken advantage of a one-off grant, to reduce the burden others will expect some working-age claimants to pay 20 per cent of their council tax bill – around £200.
County council bosses are also expected to lose out to the tune of around £700,000 in East Lancs and Chorley alone – as district councils adopt their own policies on the benefit but the bulk of the budgetary impact will be felt by the Lancashire authority.
Claimants in Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Pendle will face the maximum rises, as their councils are passing on the full government cut.
But Hyndburn and Pendle are to introduce a discretionary hardship scheme to try to help the worst-hit.
Pendle Labour leader Coun Mohammed Iqbal condemned the change as a ‘fundamental attack on the poor’.
Conservative council leader Coun Joe Cooney said: “These changes are as a result of us needing to tackle the deficit.”
Burnley Liberal Democrat Coun Anne Kelly said she did not believe finding an extra £3 per week would prove to be too much of a hardship.
Elsewhere councils in Burnley, Ribble Valley and Rossendale have each decided to accept a one-year transitional grant, limiting tax bills to only 8.5 per cent. In Chorley the estimated cost will be just seven per cent.
Defending the scheme, Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are cutting council tax in real terms for hardworking families and pensioners.