COUNCILLORS have locked horns over a meeting decision regarding Localised Council Tax.
A full council meeting by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council at the Guildhall in Weymouth outlined matters for decision including the Localised Council Tax Support scheme referred from the management committee.
From April 1 last year, the government abolished the national Council Tax Benefit scheme and instead, councils were asked to develop their own schemes, known as Local Council Tax Support.
At the meeting, it was agreed that the borough council should adopt scheme B in its Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2014 to 2015.
The scheme limits the council’s contribution to 91.5 per cent of the council tax liability, meaning those who were previously eligible for 100 per cent Council Tax Benefit are required to pay the remaining contribution of 8.5 per cent of their council tax bill.
Various councillors argued to amend the tax proposal to the council’s Scheme A, which would mean those suffering financially did not have to contribute towards council tax payment.
Full council voted against the amendment to Scheme A, with a recorded vote of 18 councillors to 13 in favour of Scheme B – the 8.5 per cent council tax bill contribution by the public.
In council notes, members were advised that Scheme B had already been incorporated into the 2014 to 2015 council budget.
Coun Rachel Rogers requested to amend the proposal to Scheme A ‘to protect the most vulnerable residents of Weymouth and Portland’.
“Those who were previously eligible for 100 per cent Council Tax Benefit are the poorest in our society,” she said.
“The 8.5 per cent council tax is money those suffering simply do not have, and being unable to make the payments would be likely to push them into debt.”
Coun Paul Kimber said that in areas such as Underhill, Littlemoor and Westham the reality is that every other family is struggling financially.
He called for the council tax scheme to look closer into how to serve the worst off in the community.
Coun Peter Chapman, borough council briefholder for Finance and Assets, supported the 8.5 per cent tax contribution and said that he doesn’t yet know what the impact of the current scheme is locally.