‘Rethink’ urged on tax reforms

PEOPLE with a local connection could be given greater priority on the district’s housing waiting list.

However, some councillors warned there could be a ‘perfect storm’ come April with a series of reforms to the housing system.

On Thursday last week Daventry District Council’s strategy group approved going out to public consultation on changes to the housing allocations scheme which would include a ‘local connection’ criteria.

Also applicants with a history of anti-social behaviour could be barred from joining the register.

The same meeting also backed changes to council tax support. The benefit is paid to households on lower incomes to help them pay their council tax. But the Government is reducing its money for the scheme and has told councils to come up with their own schemes to make the necessary savings.

DDC’s approach will see cuts in discounts given to empty and second homes, and cuts to those on lower incomes so the benefit would cover a maximum of 92.5 per cent of DDC’s tax bill.

Cllr Ken Melling said: “I know it will only cost most people a few pounds extra a week, but looking at the consultation responses this would make a big difference to a lot of people.”

Cllr Steve Osborne (Con) asked about the ‘bedroom tax’ due to come in for people under-occupying social housing.

He said: “Take this example, a 50-year-old woman whose son has just moved out is now technically under-occupying her three-bedroom home. This means she would lose benefits. Then she would lose some of her council tax benefits through this as well.

“If she asks to be moved from her home of 20 years into a smaller property and the housing association refuses, or there just isn’t a smaller property available anywhere in the area, what happens?”

The answer from officers was she’d still have to pay.

Cllr Osborne said: “For both these changes being brought in at the same time, and hitting the same people twice – I just think the Government needs to look at this.”