|Ealing Cuts Will Hit Poorest Says Charity|
Benefit reductions could see more in arrears
A charity says benefit cuts, approved in Ealing last night, will hit the poor and vulnerable, hard.
Changes to the Council Tax Support scheme will see most claimants getting 8.5% less in benefits - meaning they will have to find the shortfall.
There are 26,000 claimants in Ealing and over 5000 are in arrears - 3000 currently have a court summons against their name.
The Liberal Democrats opposed the move and called in the decision to make the cut but it was approved at an Extraordinary meeting last night (Tuesday 5th Jan).
Lib Dem Leader, Councillor Gary Malcolm, says the government has not cut this budget area and claims Ealing Council has chosen to move money from the vulnerable.
He attacked both local Labour and Conservative representatives saying many disabled, single parents and women will be affected by this move.
He said: “Liberal Democrats say that claimants are people not a number. Those who voted, for the tens of thousands of claimants to go deeper into poverty, should hang their heads in shame. In Ealing there are two political parties – the Liberal Democrats who are standing up for the vulnerable and everyone else!”
Joanna Kennedy, Chief Executive of Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K) an advice charity which helps claimants said:
“The changes to Ealing’s Council Tax Support scheme just voted through by councillors will mean over 8,000 lone parents and disabled claimants will now be expected to pay at least 8.5% of their council tax. This might not seem much to some but for those struggling to survive on a low income it can be the difference between eating or not.
''The burden of these cuts will be falling squarely on Ealing most vulnerable residents. We urge councillors to reconsider these changes and find a way to maintain existing levels of support.”
Council Leader Julian Bell said: '' Until 2013 this scheme was fully funded by the Government. In 2013 the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats cut it by 10%. Later it was rolled into our general grant. This general grant has been cut year on year.
''Fully funding the scheme would mean cuts elsewhere which would hit services vulnerable residents rely upon. This is an impossible dilemma forced upon us by the policies of Liberal Democrats when they were in Government. It is clear that not only are the Liberal Democrats playing politics with this but they don’t understand how it works.''
6th January 2015