A PROPOSED change to council tax will hit hard amongst those “least able to deal with it” believes Hereford’s Citizens Advice Bureau chief executive.
And CAB CEO Claire Keetch added that Herefordshire Council’s money-saving measure may not ultimately save that much money.
In its new budget, the council is looking at capping the amount people can claim back from their council tax.
In two years that number has fallen from 100 per cent to 84 per cent.
Now the plan is to cut it to 76 cent.
Ms Keetch said: “Many of the people who we deal with that receive support paying their council tax are already in debt.
“If they go through debt management measures, council tax bills like this can be just wiped clean.
“These people are already having to make decisions over ‘heating or eating’ in the winter.
“This will put those who are already struggling under extreme stress and exacerbate a difficult situation.”
The council has projected that the policy will save the county £304, 000.
However it is unclear whether this takes into account debt-ridden residents who are able to later wipe their council tax as part of legal scheme.
And, like many austerity measures passed down from central government, one group will remain unaffected.
Herefordshire Council’s Ben Proctor said: “Pensioners are not subject to the restrictions that the working age taxpayers are.
“Therefore according to their income pensioners may be eligible to receive the maximum 100 per cent council tax reduction.”
The result is that those hit by the changes will likely be young families, either on benefits or receiving low income, but that they could affect anyone.
Ms Keetch said: “We were concerned when it was changed from 100 per cent to 91 per cent, to 84 per cent.
“We deal with people from across the spectrum – but the use of food banks in the county is already considerable.
“So many austerity measures are affecting those who can deal with it least.”
The decision over where to set the bar is taken yearly, and has to be approved by members.
And while this controversial change has been included in the budget consultation paper, council spokesman Sharon Amery said that it is simply subject to consultation and no decision has been made.