New anger as Nottingham braces itself for cuts to council tax benefits
CAMPAIGNERS fear people in parts of Nottingham will be hard hit by changes to council tax benefits.
From April, the national council tax benefit scheme will be abolished under the Welfare Reform Act, with responsibility for discounts being passed on to local councils.
Nottingham City Council says this may mean many people will end up having to pay more council tax, and has set up a Council Tax Support Scheme to help reduce the burden.
But the Defend Council Tax Benefits campaign group fear it doesn't go far enough.
The group met last night at the Chase Neighbourhood Centre in Robin Hood Chase, St Ann's.
Gary Freeman, of the group, said: "This move is another attack on people who struggle to make ends meet.
"I don't believe the council is fighting hard enough against the Government cuts. People are going to be severely affected by this."
St Ann's resident Richard Pearson was among those who attended.
He said: "I receive a council tax discount as I live on my own, but this will probably not be the same once the new measures come into force.
"The move is going to have a negative impact on people. They are going to struggle to afford to pay their council tax."
The Council Tax Support Scheme is set to be approved by the city council in January.
A package of £775,000 is to be given to the city council by the Government to reduce the burden on affected citizens.
Ashley Wills, 35, also of St Ann's, added: "People are really going to feel the pinch.
"There are a lot of hard-up people out there who find it difficult to pay bills as it is. Now they are going to find it even harder."
Councillor Graham Chapman, deputy leader of the city council, said: "The Government has once again given no thought to how cities and deprived areas are going to be most affected by its decisions, so although the belatedly-announced grant will go some way towards reducing the impact, it's not nearly enough in the context of broader Government cuts to our budgets.
"It is also for one year only, which means we will have to look again next year at what is affordable.
"While we have devised a scheme which we feel spreads the burden as fairly as possible, these changes will undoubtedly have some serious consequences for people already facing significant hardship."