Budget: Halt on proposed benefit support cut following fears

Outside the Council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street. Photo: Paul Franks/Peterborough Telegraph

Outside the Council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street. Photo: Paul Franks/Peterborough Telegraph

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Vulnerable people could be at risk due to a reduction in council tax support, according to two Peterborough City Councillors.

City Councillors Ed Murphy, Labour and Co-op, and Richard Ferris, Labour, have forced a consultation on the benefit to be halted.

The consultation was launched by the council last week as part of its attempt to plug a £25 million budget deficit for 2015/16.

Council tax support was cut by 30 per cent in the 2013/14 budget after a government reduction of £2.3 million. However, an extra £1 million shortfall is expected for the 2014/15 budget.

To find the money needed for this, the council is asking residents whether they would be willing to see the cut of 30 per cent extended to 35 or 40 per cent or to remain the same.

The councillors, though, feel taking away the reduction should be an option.

In their call-in request to halt the consultation they wrote: “The consultation fails to take into account the option of not reducing council tax support.

“The consultation process is therefore flawed. This decision will have an unduly onerous impact on vulnerable groups.”

The call-in will be considered at a meeting of the council’s Sustainable Growth and Environment Capital Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 2 December at 6.30pm - see meeting agenda.

If council tax support remains the same the £1 million shortfall would need to be found elsewhere. Councillors also say the consultation was wrongly announced before the call-in date had passed.

Related: Council tax support could face 40 per cent reduction, 21 November

2014