Interesting post from Birmingham Against The Cuts who are doing an excellent job reporting the reaction to the despicable plan of the government to cut council tax benefit to some of the most vulnerable and poorest rate-payers. Unsurprisingly, the mood at the ‘consultation’ meetings to the cut has been unrelentingly hostile.
The newish Bimingham Labour council may think they are ‘democratising’ the issue by having the consultation exercise but I’m not clear how you can use the c-word when it seems that the real decision, by the LP councillors to accept this cut, has already been made. It’s like offering a prisoner about to be executed a choice between the electric chair or the lethal injection. Not much of a choice, really.
I’ve said this before but I think it bears repeating. It simply isn’t good enough for local Labour parties to blame Conservative government for this cut. In the first instance, there is no guarantee that any incoming Labour administration would reverse it, and secondly there is the option of defying the government. Radical, potentially dangerous, and not the traditional behaviour of councillors not accustomed to rocking the boat, but necessary. To me this is a rubicon-crossing issue and councillors should act accordingly.
Originally posted on Birmingham Against The Cuts:
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