A SCHEME that would have cut council tax benefit for people on low incomes has been rejected following a victory by Basingstoke opposition councillors.
The ruling Tory administration had put forward a plan to reduce benefit payments by 30 per cent over three years, starting at 8.5 per cent in April.
But at the latest full council meeting, the proposal was defeated by a united opposition by 29 votes to 28.
According to Labour Norden councillor Paul Harvey, the Conservative proposal would have “pushed working families below the breadline”.
The decision means that 10,066 residents will see no change to their council tax benefits until at least April 2014.
Labour’s Popley West ward member Vivien Washbourne said the decision will help working families.
“These are people already on the edge,” she said. “People who are working but still need support to keep them above the poverty line.”
The Conservative administration put forward the proposed changes after the Government introduced measures for local councils to run their own council tax support schemes.
Funding from Government to local councils for council tax support schemes will fall by 10 per cent from April next year.
Basingstoke and Deane will be faced with a £71,000 shortfall, and Hampshire County Council with one of £607,000.
A Labour proposal, which was backed by the Liberal Democrats, the one UKIP councillor, and Independent members, will see extra cash used from an overhaul in council tax discounts – such as scrapping second home council tax discounts – as well as Government “transitional funding”, and £14,000 from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s savings, to avoid the need for cuts for one year.
Defending the original proposal, Conservative deputy council leader Ranil Jayawardena said the administration’s plan would still have protected the most vulnerable people from cuts to council tax support.