As at previous consultation meetings there was enormous anger at the proposal to make people on income support and Job Seekers Allowance pay an average of £5 a week council tax. It was pointed out that with cuts in other benefits such as housing benefit, and general reductions in benefits as part of the Universal Credit, these people were absolutely unable to pay more without facing starvation.
Many people contended that with the costs of debt collection, and the increase in crime, family breakdown, and homelessness the policy would cost more than the money raised. A recent survey showed that councils expect 50% of people will refuse to pay the new charge. Other councils such as Walsall, Dudley and Solihull have decided to absorb the cut in funding and provide the same council tax benefit as before, but this could involve other cuts in services. The real solution was to confront the unfair policy of the government and force it to change course.
About sixty people took part and they unanimously passed the following motion from supporters of BATC:
This meeting agrees
- To condemn the government’s decision to reduce Council Tax benefit for poor people and demand that the policy is reversed
- To call on Birmingham Labour Council to absorb the cuts in Council Tax benefit funding so Birmingham’s poor continue to pay no council tax.
- To call on the council to issue a press statement to report the discussion and the passing of this motion