CHANGES to council tax support have been thrown out after concerns they would hit the poorest in the district.
The alterations to the scheme were ousted by a single vote by members of Malvern Hills District Council last Tuesday (December 3).
The proposals to include child benefit and maintenance payments as part of a claimant’s income came under particular fire on the night.
Coun Sheila Young said: “Those payments are for children’s shoes and school uniforms and other essentials.
“This reduction hits parents and life is difficult enough.”
The other changes included scrapping discounts of £10 and under, stopping backdated claims and removing the second adult rebate.
Coun Val Myatt also criticised the proposals outlining that the council had supported the Citizens Advice Bureau’s move to Pickersleigh because of the need in the area.
She added: “Here we are making what’s already bad worse. I think this should come in to council to have a thorough look at it. You are hitting the poorest.”
Coun Paul Cumming who is responsible for finance, performance and management and resources, defended the revised scheme which would have been implemented next April.
He said councillors needed to face ‘reality’ and without the changes the district would lose up to £300,000 a year in council tax payments.
Several members criticised the process which led to the proposals, Coun Michael Soley said big decisions were being made by an ‘elite little group’ and taken out of other members’ hands.
Council leader David Hughes hit back saying the policy had gone out to consultation and discussions had not taken place in ‘smoke filled rooms behind closed doors’.
After the changes were voted out it was moved that a members’ briefing be held before the end of the year so councillors could understand the changes and implications fully – something some believed should have happened prior to Tuesday’s discussion.
Coun Tom Well added: “I am utterly confused by this item and I don’t know enough to make a decision.
“This was a perfect opportunity to have a members’ briefing.
“I want to know the worst case scenario and what the implications are of stopping these payments.
“You are about to vote on something and you don’t understand it.”