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Government and council clash over tax changes
A GOVERNMENT official has blamed City of York Council for the imposition of hefty council tax charges on people who previously paid nothing.
The civil servant told a York resident the authority had failed to claim a £200,000 grant which had been available from the Government, which could have restricted the charge to 8.5 per cent.
But a senior York councillor branded the comments “misleading”, and claimed they were an attempt to shift blame for Government cuts on to local councils.
The resident, who does not want to be identified but said he was disabled, wrote to the Department for Communities and Local Government after discovering he would have to pay 30 per cent of the council tax, having previously paid nothing and becoming involved in legal action by the council.
He received a letter from a civil servant saying council tax benefit had been replaced with local council tax support schemes on April 1 and it was for councils such as City of York to set their own levels of council tax support that reflected local needs.
She said: “The Government made an additional £100 million grant available to local authorities if they designed a local council tax support scheme that met specific criteria.
“City of York Council did not claim the grant and designed a scheme that did not meet the criteria. Had City of York Council chosen to put in place a local scheme that met the criteria for the grant, they would have received £201,993 for 2013/14. For councils that did comply with the grant, they would have set council tax levels at no more than 8.5 per cent for those who previously received 100 per cent support.”
She also encouraged the resident to speak to the council on its plans for designing a scheme for 2014/15.
But Coun Dafydd Williams, cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, claimed Government cuts had created a recurring £1.3 million black hole for York taxpayers that could not be filled by a one-off grant of £200,000.
He said: “To suggest otherwise is not only misleading, it is attempting to shift blame for the Government cut on to local councils.
“Most councils felt they had to reject this one-off grant as to accept would have meant further service cuts at a time of reduced Government funding.”
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