CONTROVERSIAL plans to cut council tax benefit for low income families and scrap the discount for second homes on the Isle of Wight have been branded as unfair by a leading councillor.
The council is considering proposals that would mean 7,900 residents, who have their council tax paid through benefits, having to pay up to 20 per cent of their bills from April next year.
The plans were discussed at a full council meeting last night (Wednesday).
The move follows the government’s decision to abolish the national council tax benefit scheme and replace it with locally run schemes. The Isle of Wight Council needs to find an extra £1.9m a year to cover its costs, due to a cut in government support.
However, Liberal Democrat, Cllr Reg Barry told members he could only support a system that was fair and which treated every council tax payer the same.
He said: "Where does the idea come from that everybody who has the misfortune to find themselves out of work and in need of the support that benefits bring are work shy and to stop a percentage of their benefits will make them go and take up all these jobs that are going begging? What jobs?"
Labour councillor, Geoff Lumley said that the scheme was a 'classic example’ of what Lady Thatcher’s government did in the 1980s, making local government impose cuts from central government.
He said: "This is something that will bite the government in the back."
However, the Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr David Pugh, told members that the authority was obliged to draw up its own scheme.
He said: "The overall cost of the welfare state is unaffordable and this is how the government seeks to reduce it."
Members voted to go ahead with the consultation on the proposals, which will run from Monday, until November 10.
The final scheme must be agreed in January.