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Teignbridge extends council tax support

Monday, January 18th, 2021 9:36am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

Reductions for people hit by covid crisis

Teignbridge District Council is extending its council tax support scheme to help people hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillors have unanimously agreed to update its council tax reduction scheme so that local residents are helped if there are any future government one-off benefit changes, such as an amendment to the £20 uplift of Universal Credit.

Teignbridge suspends council tax for those in greatest need. It's the only council in Devon to do so.

The council will automatically offset the £20 Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit uplift when assessing claims for council tax reductions, or any other one-off benefits, to avoid a scenario of some of the poorest getting an uplift in benefits only then to no longer quality for full support.

Cllr David Cox said: “Our team need to be congratulated for caring for the people who desperately need help. We have seen the poorest suffer the most because of the economic downturn due to covid and this council is doing its bit to look after those less fortunate due to covid.

“If would be Kafka-esque if people were given the £20 uplift from government only for the council to then have to take it back.”

The council’s executive member for economy and jobs, Cllr Nina Jeffries, added: “We know that many local residents struggle to make ends meet at the best of times, but now millions of people are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. Lib Dems on Teignbridge Council are doing what we can to ease the pressure on families facing financial hardship.

“As the coronavirus crisis escalates, many will be unable to pay, and may fall into arrears if steps are not taken to support families with payments. Local residents, the NHS and Teignbridge Council are all pulling together against coronavirus.”

And a motion calling for the government to help local families by making permanent the universal credit £20 uplift offered during the pandemic was also put forward by Cllr Cox.

His motion asked for the leader of the council to write to the chancellor of the exchequer and the members of parliament serving Teignbridge to call for the retention of the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

Cllr Cox said: “Teignbridge Council strongly urge the Government to make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extend this same support to those on legacy benefits. By doing this, it will help keep families afloat and strengthen our social security system so it provides the public service we can all turn to when we hit hard times.

“Lib Dem-led Teignbridge Council is ready to work with the government to continue to prevent a rising tide of poverty in our society and ensure we achieve a recovery that is felt by everyone, and supports this through the retention of the 100% Council Tax support system, the only council in Devon to do so.

“I believe retaining the £20 Universal Credit uplift will support the wider economic recovery. Cutting support for those on the lowest incomes will reduce demand in the economy at a time when we are trying to secure a recovery.”

As per the procedure of the council, his motion was referred to the executive for consideration, before returning to full council at a later date for a decision to be made.

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