Tax plan could hit poor hard

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It could be ‘Poll Tax Mark II’ if low income households have to pay council tax for the first time.

Janice Hanson, deputy leader of Lancaster City Council, compared changes to the council tax benefit scheme to the community charge which led to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall in 1990.

An extraordinary meeting has been called tomorrow night (January 16) at Morecambe Town Hall where councillors could introduce first-time taxation for people on benefits.

This comes after the Government slashed its council tax benefit grant to local authorities by £500m, forcing Lancaster City Council into funding a £1.1m shortfall.

“The feedback (from residents) is that most people should pay council tax if you are of working age, except for pensioners and the really vulnerable,” said Coun Hanson.

“But that means we’ll have to ask people who have never paid it before to pay it.

“We’re calling it the ‘Poll Tax Mark II’.

“People with empty homes will have to pay 150% council tax and those with second homes 100% tax instead of receiving a discount, but that won’t bridge the gap.”

Council officers have recommended bringing in a ‘cost neutral’ scheme where working age benefit claimants would get 23% less council tax support.

The meeting will start at 6pm.