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Government defeated on ‘poll tax mark two’

22 October 2012

The government suffered an awkward defeat in the House of Lords this afternoon on its changes to council tax benefit. Rebels on an amendment to the Local Government Finance Bill calling for an independent review of the changes to be carried out within three years of their introduction included 16 Liberal Democrats.

Labour has dubbed the changes, which will mean councils will have to design their own local schemes to help low-income households with council tax bills, the ‘poll tax mark two’ because two million families will have to contribute towards their council tax for the first time. Liberal Democrat Lord Shipley told the Chamber:

‘The problems for individuals could be very severe in the face of so much change at once. As a very minimum the Government should commission an independent review to report on how the changes are working.’

The motion, tabled by Labour’s Baroness Hollis, carried by 203 votes to 165. It’s unlikely be the only Lib Dem rebellion in the Lords, either. If the government had hoped that it had moved on from those late winter nights when the junior coalition partner’s peers voted against key aspects of welfare reform and legal aid legislation, it may well find itself in for a shock. I understand Liberal Democrat peers – and not just those on tonight’s list of 16 rebels – are mulling voting against the government’s regulations for the personal independence payment when they come to the Lords.

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  • hamstrung

    Currently, the value of the Council Tax support given by local authorities to those who qualify, averages £15.69 per week.

    To those that currently qualify, that sum represents just about the amount to spend on food to eat for one week after bills are paid.

    Imagine, opening your purse/wallet and seeing £16.00 – Do you think to yourself, should I eat this week or pay my Council tax this week?

    For me, it is as black and white as that.

    And, as I imagine most people will go for the “I’ll eat” option – overnight, this Government will make otherwise honest and honourable citizens into debtors and damage their credit ratings irrevocably. As with students, debt will be no longer be seen as shameful or something best avoided but inevitable. And it may or may not happen, but there is a distinct possibility that those people who, up until this kicks in have gone without a car, latest gadget, holiday etc., i.e. “luxuries” will just say, b**locks, why not, “We’re in debt anyway, what does it matter now?”

    Currently, this benefit is paid to some 5.9 million people, people who will still need it, whether or not it is forthcoming. The prospect of turning this same number of people into debtors by default will change the whole nature/fabric of the country. When you consider, that the sums for collection will be uncollectable, apart from blackening somebody’s name for non-payment, just how will this improve the country’s bank balance? Pray tell.

  • HooksLaw

    Well done for repeating labour propaganda lines.
    How is ensuring people pay council tax who can afford it a new poll tax.

    • notme3

      there is an issue that it is expensive and fruitless chasing people for small amounts of money, who dont have much, through the courts.

      • ToryOAP

        What, like the BBC licence fee?

    • Steve Akam

      the point is the people their asking to pay council tax cant afford it. these are people deemed to be in poverty and living on the minimum the government say they need to live. now they want to take a min of £5 a week of them when their stretched to the limit. dont believe the government spin that all on benifts are beer swilling, chain smoking tv addicts that dont want work, its not true and the few that they hold up as examples reprsent 1or2% of claiments, usually drug dealers and/or genral scallys.

  • trendywend

    fab fab fab news,how someone on benefits of £70 pounds a week will have to pay at least 25% towards their council tax is ridiculous.PICKING ON THE SICK AND DISABLED AND MOST VUNERABLE IS WHAT THE CONDEMS IS ALL ABOUT.HATE THEM,WE NEED A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE ASAP.LIB DEMS NEED TO GET SOME BACKBONE AND REBEL MORE OFTEN.

    • Span Ows

      Is this the 6th form common room knee-jerk reply? “picking on the sick and disabled”???!!! Read what is actually happening/proposed and not leftie polemic and lies.

  • Archimedes

    The Lib Dems are surely finished. The only time they make the news is when they are shrieking their objections to something or other. It no longer even matters if they manage to get on the populist side of an issue: no one cares, and no one trusts them. A little ironic, given that they used to have some level of appeal to the metropolitan elites as the wisened and enlightened politicians that did not engage in partisan propaganda. Yet, here we are, with the LibDems spending their days wondering what they can next rebel against.

    I give them ten years before they either merge with the Conservatives, or disintegrate entirely. In the mean time they can spend their days being, not the third party, but one of the three parties that sits in that area of the opposition benches that no gives a shit about.

    • FF42

      If their former supporters defect to Labour, as appears to be the case, the Conservatives will be joining them on the opposition benches.

      • Archimedes

        Well the Conservatives are pretty fucked anyway. Cameron has been pushed too far to the right: his natural instinct now seems to be to present some right-wing red meat whenever he’s in a spot of bother. He’s quite plainly not able to tow the moderated right-wing line he put forward at the Conservative conference. So now a week of incompetence is followed by a week of heartlessness, which doesn’t necessarily appeal to the broadest range of voters.

        It would be pretty dire if Red Ed ended up spending more than one term in Downing Street, but the Conservatives may well be capable of adding a little electoral C4 to complement their toxicity.

        • sym

          Too far to the right… We must be living on a different planet or you got your definitions mixed up. His policies seem like social-democracy to me, i.e. bigger government and more spending, nothing else.

          • Archimedes

            As Descarte might have said: Habeo broadband, ergo sum ​​in terra.

            So, perhaps, you just have not been paying enough attention. His policies, with one or two exceptions, are undeniably right-wing: his rhetoric is centrist. There are very few policies that Cameron’s government have followed, that have not attempted in some way to promote competition within state functions, remove state bureaucracy, or devolve power to individuals.
            Of course, if you were a conservative, and therefore pragmatic, you would naturally see that big changes do not happen over night; that the foundations for a more versatile, and smaller, state have to be secured first; and you would therefore exercise a little more patience in your judgement.

            When I said “too far to the right”, I was specifically talking about his recent change in rhetoric, which has not been properly balanced.

            • Span Ows

              Thanks for the clarifying reply because my immediate reaction was the same a sym’s.

              • telemachus

                Cameron’s problem is that he is a flip flopping patrician who has no rudder and no moral compass(remember that)
                As such he is no better than Major or the hateful Blair.
                Thatcher and Brown both in their own ways had a sense of purpose for we their subjects.
                As such love or hate them we at least had a sense of how we as a people should be.
                Oh for those days

  • Bluesman

    Coalition. Just the first of the many really really great ideas brought to you by the Spine Donor and his playmates.

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