Council criticised over tax scheme
Opposition councillors have criticised Harborough council for agreeing to charge its poorest residents up to £190 a year council tax.
On Wednesday, the Tory-run council endorsed its own scheme to replace the existing council tax benefit scheme for people of working age.
From April, about 1,600 people who have not had to pay council tax in the past will be expected to pay at least 15 per cent of the full charge.
The move comes after the Government announced it was cutting its support for council tax benefit by 10 per cent.
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Last Thursday's decision has been criticised by Liberal Democrat councillor Simon Galton.
He said: "I think this decision is strange. The Government is urging councils to charge benefit claimants at least 8.5 per cent in the first year. Some councils are even covering the whole cost for the first year.
"We cannot understand why Harborough has gone for 15 per cent.
"We estimate it will mean the poorest residents will have to find between £170 and £190 a year as opposed to just over half which is being charged by other councils.
"We calculate this new system will, in fact, earn a surplus of £135,000 a year for Harborough council which will be put into a contingency fund."
However, the council said that to support vulnerable people who may not be able to pay their contribution towards their council tax, the council would be creating a discretionary discount fund.
Council leader Mike Rook said: "We are getting less money from national government to fund the benefits we give out.
"We need a scheme which is affordable and sustainable for this district, while seeking to protect the most vulnerable.
"This is why a discretionary fund has been created to help those who fit the criteria and may require temporary assistance based on their particular circumstances."
The changes do not affect pensioners.