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Calls to protect disabled from council tax reforms
12:00am Monday 17th September 2012 in News
PROPOSED council tax benefit reforms could mean some disabled people will have to turn off the heating in winter, according to an Andover charity.
The Enham Trust, which has supported thousands of disabled people since 1919, says up to 70 vulnerable people living in Enham Alamein could be affected at a time when they are already struggling financially.
Councils are currently looking for ways to recoup a 12 per cent Government cut in the council tax benefit grant – a move designed to encourage more people off benefits and into work.
Pensioners will be exempt, and the Enham Trust is calling for disabled people to be protected as well.
Under outline proposals Test Valley may increase the minimum council tax contribution to ten per cent – costing two or three pounds a week, but enough to tip the balance for some.
Mark Deal, Enham’s director of development, research and policy, said: “Many disabled people are already living on or near the poverty line.
“This additional cost may not seem much to people with an income, but when every penny counts, the proposed council tax charge could mean not being able to put the heating on when you need it most in the winter, as disabled people are not entitled to the winter fuel allowance.
“We are not talking about cutting back on luxuries, we are talking about very real essentials.”
Cllr Phil North, who represents the Enham Alamein ward, told the charity he is concerned at the plight of disabled residents in the Test Valley and has called for more flexibility in the council’s proposals.
The people who live in the charity’s specially adapted housing at Enham Alamein live with a variety of different physical and learning disabilities.
Mark Deal said: “Enham’s services continue to support many hundreds of disabled people to enter the workplace and sustain employment, but we also recognise this is not possible for some disabled people and we must ensure these individuals are not further penalised because of the financial pressures placed on Government. The recession was not caused by disabled people – we should not be the ones made to pay for it.”
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