Thursday, 14 January 2010

Labour City Councillors Attack Discounted Council Tax Rate for Pensioners

Labour councillors on the City of Lincoln Council have attacked a decision made by the cabinet of the Conservative-led council to keep a specific council tax reduction for pensioners.

The City of Lincoln Council has announced it will stick with a scheme which sees elderly residents pay the previous year's council tax rates, currently saving pensioners the lowly sum of 50p a month.

The authority, which sets the rate, believes that it means 'pounds back in the pensioners' pocket', giving them a fairer deal.

However, Leader of the Opposition, Cllr. Ric Metcalfe, Labour (Gebe Ward), has attacked the reduction at a council meeting on Tuesday. 5th January, calling it 'completely useless' scheme.

Directing his attack to the Leader of the Council, Cllr. Metcalfe addressed the meeting saying:
"I wonder if you or your colleagues realise what a completely useless scheme this is.

"If this matter went before council, we would ask for it to be deferred. You could utilise money used for this for a concerted take-up campaign to identify pensioners not claiming the benefits they are entitled to."
Council Tax bills have increased by more than the rate of inflation, and many people on fixed incomes find the increase in the council tax difficult to afford. Independent studies have identified that pensioners are amongst this group of people. The Conservatives decided to introduce the reduced rates to the elderly last year, deferring one year's rise in council tax and providing a significant saving of, on average, around 4% this year.

Cllr. Metcalfe, presented an argument suggestng that because the total council tax bill will go up a year in lieu, this means they could pay more one year than regular taxpayers. Unfortunately that is simply not true, at worst if the deferrment was halted - as the Labour Group propose - then the elderly would be paying the same rate as other council taxpayers.

Cllr. Ms Karen Lee, Labour (Carholme Ward), also attacked the decision, saying:
"This 'saving' for pensioners is a huge con. You obviously haven't got the nous to work this out properly."
The freeze only applies to the City of Lincoln Council's share of the tax – not the county council or police authority's share. The final council tax rate for the coming year has not been set.

Leader of the Council, Cllr. Darren Grice, Conservative (Bracebridge Ward) said it was a justified move.
"Labour would cease the pensioner discount scheme, because they don't think it is warranted.

"We think any pounds we can get back in the pensioner's pocket is better than in the pocket of city hall. They don't agree with that. They're going back to their tax and spend policy which got the council into the mess we are now sorting out."
City of Lincoln Council have produced this helpful video:

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