Changes to the Council Tax benefit system which will mean fewer people will be exempt from council tax have been adopted by the district council.
People of working age not classed as in a vulnerable group who previously were exempt from council tax will now have to pay at least 20 per cent of their council tax bill. As a result, many people of working age currently out of work will now have to pay at least a percentage of their council tax.
Leader of South Kesteven District Council Linda Neal said the changes were necessary as the council faces a funding shortfall from the Government as a result of the changes of at least 10 per cent.
Coun Neal said: “Whilst this is not ideal I think it is one of the best schemes in Lincolnshire as we are proposing that if you are eligible for full tax benefits at the moment, you will still get 80 per cent in the new scheme.
“There are several schemes in Lincolnshire saying 75 per cent.”
Every council must adopt a new scheme which will “incentivise employment and make work pay” whilst taking into account the needs of vulnerable groups.
The council’s new scheme was criticised by Labour councillors but Coun Neal insisted “the cake is only so big...there is less money to go round and we can’t magic money out of thin air”.
Coun Neal added: “I think we have done the very best we can to make sure the hardest working families on low incomes are protected as well as they can be.
“In an ideal world we will have everything but we are not in an ideal world. We are where we are and we need to do the best for the community we can.
“We will make sure everyone feels it a little and no particular group feels the pain too much. Everyone is struggling but we genuinely believe this is one of the best schemes and we have done everything we can to protect people that need the support the most.”
Labour councillor Phil Dilks said not enough thought had been put into the scheme which he described as a “car crash waiting to happen”.
Coun Dilks added: “The Government say we are all in this together but the Government’s priority is not to help little people but the millionaires.”
However, Coun Mike Taylor accused Labour councillors of not attending the relevant policy development group where the proposals were discussed.
Coun Mike Taylor said: “Had they bothered to come along to these meetings they could have proposed an alternative scheme but no, they wait until the 11th hour and then make an issue.
“That’s not supporting your people properly, that’s grandstanding.”