Responding to the approval of an amendment to the Local Government Finance Bill which potentially opens the door to council tax benefit schemes being rolled into universal credit, LGA Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell, said:
"This has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Putting council tax support into universal credit would effectively make paying council tax optional for hundreds of thousands of people who will be struggling with their rent and fuel bills. This would likely have a huge impact on councils' ability to collect the tax which would have a knock-on effect on public services.
"As it stands, the legislation places councils in a difficult position and many will have little option but to ask people on low incomes to pay more council tax in future. It is disappointing that a common sense compromise was not reached to give local areas greater control over all types of council tax discount. This would have given councils greater flexibility in managing the 10 per cent cut to council tax support funding and the means to set sensible discounts for the less well off.
"Council tax is the most visible form of tax most people pay. Its proceeds go directly to funding local services. It is a shame that local areas will not be given control over who in their community gets to pay less tax."
For more information on the Third Reading of the Local Government Finance Bill, please visit see the following page on the LGA website:
Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: Dale Atkinson, Local Government Association Media Office
Telephone: 020 7664 3333
7 December 2012