On Monday, October 19, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Rother District Council (RDC) voted to change the Council Tax Reduction benefit. They voted to have a minimum payment of 20% of the Council Tax for all households from the 2016/17 Council Tax year. This will hit the poorest of the Council’s electorate.
The Council’s own figures suggest that this will affect 3,447 households across the district. Some of our poorest families will be put into debt and will face everything that accompanies this, including repossessions, homelessness, relationship breakdowns, poor health and increased suicide rates.
There is a proposal for a Hardship Fund, but there is no detail, so we do not know how families will benefit.
One of our RDC councillors for the town of Rye, Gennette Stevens, is on the Overview and Scrutiny committee and the other, Lord Ampthill, is a member of the RDC Cabinet which leads the council. The Conservative led RDC cabinet are meeting on Monday November 2 with the Council Tax proposal being put to Full Council on December 14.
This council has not increased the council tax since 2010/11. The government allowed for up to 1.99% increases each year, but RDC decided on no increase for five years. Now, as its finances are in a poor state, it has decided to hit the poorest, when it could have shared the pain around to all – with the wealthiest in the largest houses taking the highest burden.
I leave you to draw your own conclusions. I will be protesting at the Full Council meeting on December 14 at 6:30 pm. Alternatively, you can contact your RDC councillors by email. Their email addresses are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org