Council leader warns of council tax court chaos after cuts
CITY council leader Jon Collins has warned that courts will become "clogged up" with people unable to pay council tax after government cuts.
The current national Council Tax Benefit scheme is to be abolished under the Welfare Reform Act next year.
It will mean responsibility for discounts will no longer be the Government's responsibility but local councils from April.
As a result, the city council is consulting on a scheme to ensure those with the lowest incomes only pay 8.5 per cent of their bill for a year.
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However after that, they will be expected to pay 20 per cent.
Speaking at a city council executive board meeting, Mr Collins said: "This will have the same kind of impact on people that the poll tax did. Very simply because we will be having to collect small amounts of money from people who will struggle to pay it, who will therefore get into arrears.
"We will be forced to collect this money, which will add to their debts, and will end up in court, which will lead to further debts.
"People will be unable to pay or refuse and court will be clogged up with people facing custodial sentences."
The Government has announced a £100 million "transition fund" for councils that introduce schemes that meet specific criteria.
One of these is that people who get a 100 per cent discount, must not pay more than 8.5 per cent under the new scheme. It means the city council could receive a £775,000 grant.
The grant is not available for 2014-15, so the council is likely to enforce its original plans then, which would see everyone paying a minimum of 20 per cent.
Pensioners will not be affected by the changes.