Friday, 14 December 2012

Do you get Council Tax Benefit in #Cornwall? Then bloody well read this and do something about it.

In a press release from Cornwall Council today - and despite having just rejected a similar 30% recommendation earlier today - the Council cabinet has announced that it plans to... a recommendation that all working age recipients of council tax benefit [have] to pay an additional 25% contribution towards council tax.
If you are considered one of the poorest working-age people in the county, and you currently receive a full 100% rebate on your council tax,it is  you that will start paying 25% of your total council tax bill. 

Let's put this into perspective, shall we? I'll take my circumstance as an example.

This is my income/expenditure:

Employment Support Allowance: £3,692

These are my basic outgoings:

Gas & Electric: £592
(both increasing by 7.8% in 2013)
Water: £300
Food: £2080
Pet costs (food and insurance): £217
Mobile: £384
Broadband: £204

Total: £3777

So at the end of each year, and before I have to worry about council tax, I have no less than:

- £85 p.a.

Let me stress that amount:
After having paid only those bills that are necessary or I am contracted to pay, I am left with a negative amount of money.
Earlier today, I was forced for the first time in my life to accept the generosity of my community, and take an emergency package from the food bank. It was inundated. I shall be putting my name forward as a volunteer now.

Assuming that regardless of any other discounts I receive, and that the council is telling the truth when they say they 'support the proposal to reduce the maximum entitlement to council tax benefit to 75%', I should expect a bill of no less than £246.90 for my band 'A' property. This leaves me one simple question that anyone who is in a similar position to myself must ask the Cornwall Council cabinet?
Given my circumstances, where do you suggest I find the money to pay a council tax bill?
I don't just mean that metaphorically. Actually ask them!

I suggest you do much the same as I have; take an hour or two out of your day to work out your income expenditure for the year, find out how much Cornwall Council expects you to pay in council tax and follow the instructions below.

So what can I do?

Lots of things
  1. Work out the combined annual income from all sources (after tax) for your household. (benefit rates. Jobcentre Plus can also help you with this; inundate them with requests and jam up the system)
  2. Work out your expenditure for a one year period for your household. You may run a car, or own a TV (I can't afford one) or have other expenditures that I do not have. Try to be as thorough as possible, but don't lie; you won't need to.
  3. Work out how much your full council tax bill here, and deduct 75%. This will leave you with a good approximation of what Cornwall Council expects the county's poorest to stump up.
  4. Find out who your local Cornwall County councillor is here, and email them with your income/expenditure, your estimated council tax bill and ask them (politely) how they are going to vote at the Full Council meeting at 10:30am on 15th January, 2013, reminding them that the local council elections are on the 2nd May, 2013.
  5. Using the same link, write to your Member of Parliament with a similar email/letter,, and that you will not support them if nothing is done.
  6. Most importantly, write to the cabinet of Cornwall Council (Yes, I know there are 10 of them, but the same letter can be repeated) informing them of your plight and that you simply do not have the money with which to pay. 
  7. If you like to write a lot, express your disgust at the situation by writing an article on the ThisIsCornwall site (login required). A mention in the letters column of your local paper is just as good. Do you have a blog? Use it. Telephone any journalists or media types you might know. Phone into Radio Cornwall, Pirate FM or any other local radio station. Anything! Just get your voice heard.
  8. Leave a comment on the ThisIsCornwall news item on the subject.
  9. If you really want to go to town, you can contact all 123 councillors!
  10. Sign the Cornwall Council on-line petition (coming soon), and share the address on your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
  11. Speak to your friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues - anyone that will listen - and let them know what they stand to lose.
  12. Join the dedicated social media pages on Facebook, Twitter (Use the #BloodFromStone on your Tweets about the subject) and Google+.
  13. Attend the Full meeting of Cornwall Council at Truro (15/01/2012) where the final decision will be made. I shall try to organise a car pool, march (any other ideas?)
  14. Let everyone know your thoughts in the comments below.
This is just a beginning, people. I am nowhere near done yet.

In order to make sure you keep up to date with events, you can also click on the little red RSS link on the right. I get most of my traffic from Reddit, please share this post by adding it to PenzanceLocalPolitics (coming soon) and any other subreddits you feel would get the most attention.

Finally, thanks for your time. See you Truro on the 15th January.

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