More than 40,000 households in Leeds will be hit in the pocket as a result of the biggest shake-up of welfare since the levy was first introduced.
Government cuts to council tax, and the introduction of the controversial ‘spare bedroom tax’, will see 41,000 households lose nearly £9.4m, according to Leeds central MP Hilary Benn.
Council tax benefits are being replaced by the local council tax support (CTS) scheme, which will see many vulnerable residents lose financial support. While social tenants with one or more empty bedroom will have housing benefits cut by up to 25 per cent.
Shadow secretary of state for communities and local government Hilary Benn said: “These figures are shocking. They show just how hard the Government’s benefit changes will hit families, including those who are working.
“It is the most deprived communities in Leeds that will be hit the hardest and a number of families will lose out twice.”
Keith Wakefield, leader of the council, agreed: “Not only will the changes to council tax support have a disproportionate impact on those living in poverty in Leeds, they will place a huge financial burden on a council already struggling to implement the biggest funding cuts in its history.”
Under the local CTS scheme, Leeds City Council will have a £5.1m shortfall in funding for council tax relief. It will leave working age residents picking up the cost. Key groups such as pensioners, war widows and single parents with children aged under five will be protected.
And the 2013/14 financial year will squeeze residents further after new rules on empty properties and second homes were agreed at a meeting of the full council yesterday.
From April owners of dwellings that have been unoccupied for more than two years will have to pay full council tax, plus a further 50 per cent premium. It is estimated this will raise an additional £554,000.
And a 10 per cent discount currently enjoyed by owners of second homes will be scrapped. Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you