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Treasury: EU housing call 'in line' with UK approach

European Commission calls for the UK to raise taxes on expensive homes, build more housing and "adjust" the Help to Buy scheme are "in line" with government policy, a Treasury spokesman has said.

"The European Commission continues to support the UK Government's strategy including its commitment to deficit reduction. The Commission's recommendations are in line with the Government's approach," the spokesman said.

Welfare reform 'is vital to tackle the budget deficit'

Spending on council tax benefit doubled under the last Government, costing taxpayers £4 billion a year-equivalent to almost £180 a year per household. Welfare reform is vital to tackle the budget deficit left by the last administration.

Our reforms to localise council tax support now give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people into work. We are ending the last administration's 'something for nothing' culture and making work pay.

– Brandon Lewis, Local Government Minister

Welfare system changes 'pushing struggling families'

For a second successive year, the country's poorest families are facing big increases in council tax.

This change to the welfare system is largely below the radar but has significant impact for families already struggling to get by on a low income. Paying this tax increase will be beyond most, pushing them into deeper hardship.

– Chris Goulden, head of poverty research at JRF

People previously deemed too poor to pay anything now face a hefty council tax bill. English councils have to hold a referendum if they want to put council tax up by more than 2%.

This government policy, aimed at keeping rises down, has been a success. Now the transitional grant has gone, it is time that government offered the same protection to the poorest households.

– Sabrina Bushe, of the New Policy Institute
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