Islington council tax reduction for low income families to continue

Council tax support will continue for thousands of low income families in Islington next year, who will pay just five per cent of the bill. There’ll be no discount for second homes or empty properties.

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Some british coins on a table top
Photo by Sarah Agnew on Unsplash

Council tax support will continue for thousands of low income families in Islington next year, who will pay just five per cent of the bill.

Politicians from across the political divide united in supporting the cuts for another year – although the opposition said it wanted the bills cut totally for families facing the biggest financial headaches.

Diarmaid Ward, executive member for finance said the cuts will help 27,000 people in Islington.

He put the blame for the cost of living crisis firmly at the door of Number Ten Downing Street and said factors like goverment cuts and “the longest period of wage stagnation in history” in the light of inflation contributed to it.

Last year the Labour controlled council put £676,000 to support the scheme to increase the discount from 90% to 95%. It has pledged to continue this in the next financial year to help people with money worries.

It consulted residents on council tax cuts in 2016 and 2021.

“We will cut council tax bills by 95% for the lowest income households in the borough. This will save some of the least well off people an additional £42 a year. Extra money is vital when paying the electricity bill, buying travel cards and putting food on the table for families,” said cllr Ward.

There is a £100 concil tax discount for older people too.

The 95% cuts for working age residents are estimated to cost Islington council £16m a year.

Council leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz said:“So many people told us how much they valued that support. It is only through supporting the least well off people in our borough that we can be truly make Islington a more equal place.”

It gave working people £150 off their council tax bills as part of covid hardship support in 2020 and 2021.

The council also has a £2.1m residents’ support fund to help people with costs like food and fuel and rent.

People can make claims to the council, job centre or department of work and pensions and claims for universal credit will be treated as an application for the support.

The move was backed by the Greens at the full council meeting (DEC 8) who are the opposition at Islington.

Their leader Caroline Russell said she would like to see a 100% reduction for those struggling the most. She said the Greens will present ways to achieve this in their alternative budget suggestions next year.

“We all of us know that people are really struggling financially. That council tax bill, even if it’s only five per cent if people are struggling with their fuel and everything else, if we could take that burden away from them it will be even better.”

Those with second homes or empty properties in Islington are warned there will be no council tax discount.

Owners of empty buildings left vacant between two and five years will be charged a premium of 100% of council tax.

The council will also slap a 200% council tax bill on homes left empty between five and ten years, rising to 300% for any sitting empty longer.

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