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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


Poor families 'facing a second year of council tax rises'

Almost 600,000 poor families are facing a second year of above average council tax rises, according to new research.

Almost 600,000 poor families are facing a second year of above average council tax rises, according to new research. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said 580,000 families in England will pay an average of £149 a year more than 12 months ago, having a "significant impact" on their finances.

The research group said a study of Council Tax Support, brought in last year, found that from this week 70,000 poor households will pay council tax for the first time, facing average bills of £114.

Government rejects call for council tax changes

The government has rejected calls for single person council tax discounts to be scrapped for people with larger homes.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Single person council tax discount is a long-standing feature of the council tax system, reflecting the fact that single adults make less use of local services than larger households.

"We have absolutely no plans to change this discount, and we have rejected the LGA's calls for a Bridget Jones tax."

Council tax: 'Expensive homes should lose discount'

The Local Government Association suggests people in larger homes should lose their discount Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

People living alone in large homes should lose their council tax discount to free up more money for struggling families on low incomes, local authorities say.

Single dwellers currently receive 25% off their council tax bill, but under new proposals the Local Government Association (LGA) wants councils to be able to adjust the discount for working people living alone in homes rated council tax band E and above.

Its own analysis has shown that it is costing councils more than £200 million a year to give the compulsory discount to people living in such properties, which are typically bigger and more expensive than the average family home.

At the same time, it said one in three local authorities expects they will have to reduce council tax support for families on low incomes because of a major shortfall in Government funding for the subsidy.

Councils are 'tackling the biggest cuts in living memory'

Local authorities are "tackling the biggest cuts in living memory" and urged the Government to give them the full amount of funding needed to provide adequate council tax support for vulnerable residents.

Chair of the Local Government Association's Finance Panel, Sharon Taylor hit out at Government cuts after the Public Accounts Committee published a scathing report into measures taken by local authorities in the wake of cuts.

The shortfall between the money councils receive to fund council tax support and the money we would need to protect those on low incomes is getting bigger and is likely to reach £1 billion by 2016.

At the same time, councils are tackling the biggest cuts in living memory and cannot afford to make up the difference.

The Public Accounts Committee's call for Government to review the scheme echoes concerns raised by councils.

Government should consider giving local authorities the full amount of funding needed to provide council tax support.

– Sharon Taylor
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