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Blame the Government for people not paying council tax, says councillor
TOO many people are struggling to pay their council tax bills because the Government moved the goalposts, according to a former Worcester finance chief.
Councillor Richard Boorn, who was in charge of Worcester City Council's budget until June, says the blame needs to be laid at the door of ministers rather than struggling householders.
He also says Worcester has too many "low paid jobs", making the situation worse.
As your Worcester News exclusively revealed on Wednesday, in just one year 3,505 people have been slapped with court summons for dodging council tax bills, a staggering 48 per cent rise since 2010.
It led to the likes of Worcester MP Robin Walker questioning whether council tax is affordable for many people and urging bills to be frozen.
Cllr Boorn was part of the city's old Labour administration, now dumped from office, which did put bills up nearly two per cent in February.
He insists the rise - around £3.46 a year for the average household - pales into insignificance compared to Government cuts to council tax support schemes.
Back in April Government cuts in support for low income council tax payers led to £121,000 being slashed off the city's scheme.
The changes hit 5,000 households, including no discounts if it is calculated at less than £20 a month and no more backdated claims.
The 'second adult rebate', where a single person who shares a property with a low income earner could claim a discount, also no longer exists.
Cllr Boorn said: "Look at the facts, since 2010 people's average income has reduced by £1,600.
"We all know Worcester has many low paid jobs and nearly all the new ones being created are low-wage positions, well below the national average.
"Nobody seems to be able to grasp the nettle on this issue and that's why many people are struggling.
"The Government stopped its council tax support scheme which meant councils like Worcester have to provide it themselves now - that's another reason rather than a £3.46 increase."
Of the 3,505 people handed a court summons £250,000 was clawed back on behalf of taxpayers by magistrates.
A total of 2,995 people to got to court were handed liability orders, which means they must pay it all back plus costs or risk jail.
The new Conservative administration has already revealed it intends to call for a council tax freeze next year.