By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
Drastic cuts to council tax support in Croydon will plunge thousands “further into poverty” according to activists.
More than 15,000 people who currently receive financial support will be affected by the changes.
A Croydon Council meeting heard the move will save £4.4 million a year when it approved changes to the way it approached assisting residents.
It means support will be based on income bands rather than other factors such as whether the recipients were single parents or received universal credit.
Council documents show the change will affect 15,000 people. Excluded from the changes are 7,000 non-working disabled people, 8,000 pensioners and care leavers under 25.
At a meeting on Monday night Councillor Stuart King, cabinet member for Croydon Renewal, said the cuts were needed for the council to balance its budget.
He said: “This has been an incredibly difficult change to make and one no one in this chamber would willingly do. But we are required by law to balance our budget.”
In response to the decision, Bromley and Croydon Unite Community tweeted: “20,000 Croydon residents will be plunged further into poverty in April as council tax will rise with energy prices.”
Paula Peters, co-founder of Bromley and Croydon Disabled People Against Cuts, previously told the LDRS families could lose from £3.29 up to £29 a week in support.
The changes will come into force in April. It will mean families that earn more than £23,400 a year will not be entitled to any support.
Those on the lowest incomes of up to £7,800 a year will be entitled to an 80 per cent discount in council tax.
Cllr King said: “The council spends £35 million a year providing support to residents with their council tax bills and this is expected to rise to £40 million in the next few years.
“We have never been fully funded by government and have had a 10 per cent cut imposed on us which amounts to £12.5 million since the new scheme was introduced in 2013.
“In response to the consultation, we have revised the scheme to include additional support for single parents with children under five, families with children, carers and residents in receipt of the housing element of universal credit.
“The revised scheme will continue to see the council spend in the region of £30 million providing support to those most in need in our borough.”
He added that a hardship fund of £64,000 will be introduced and will operate for at least two years.
Councillor Andrew Pelling broke ranks with the Labour majority to vote against the changes.
This meant the vote was tied 9-9 and mayor Sherwan Choudhury had to cast the deciding vote to pass the changes.
Pictured: Croydon town hall. Credit Google Streetview"