Poorer families face hike in tax


Thousands of low-income households could be required to pay council tax for the first time as part of benefit-cutting measures across Arun.

Working age residents currently paying no council tax could have to pay a minimum of £3.70 per week from April, as part of changes to the district council’s support scheme.

The increase would see 2,884 households now pay £192.93 annually.

Conservative councillor Robert Wheal, among the supporters of the proposal at last week’s overview select committee, said: “We thought it was only fair that people who are on benefits should have to contribute a bit more. We have got to cut £4million from our budget.

“Everything is being cut but they have got far too much in previous years and it doesn’t encourage them to do anything.

“We (the Government) have got 25 per cent back to work from cutting these benefits which I think proves the point that people can work. “

The changes, which will go before cabinet members and full council, were criticised by Liberal Democrat councillor Dr James Walsh.

He said: “These proposals fly in the face of the Prime Minister’s avowed support for the ‘JAMS’ – the just about managing – and for her being ‘a government for all, and not just the privileged few’.”

Supported changes also included removing the family premium – a £3.49 weekly discount – for new working age applicants .

A total of 158 residents responded to a consultation over the changes. In contrast, 5,722 households currently receive support.

The changes would save around £1million, with most of the saving benefitting West Sussex County Council, which receives the majority of council tax funds.

Worthing Borough Council introduced a similar £5 charge in 2015.