By Tony Hudson
Over two million poor families will face a significant increase in their council tax in the new financial year, a new report has found.
The new council tax support (CTS) system being implemented across England's 326 local councils has resulted in a ten per cent drop in available funds to help people pay their council tax, according to the report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
As pensioners are protected under the new system, local councils have had to make larger proportional cuts in CTS to working age families, who will pay an average of £132 more a year, and those not working will have to pay £140.
CTS was brought in to replace the council tax benefit (CTB) and each local council has had to devise its own way of implementing the scheme.
The switch, which becomes effective from Monday, has been harshly criticised because of the impact they will have on the very poor.
"Some of the country's poorest families must find £140 extra from their strained household budgets to pay council tax for the first time," said Chris Goulden, head of poverty at JRF.
"This tax hike will push people into poverty or cause more hardship for already very poor households, taking money from families who had little to start with."
According to the report, two-thirds of families currently receiving CTB are already in poverty, prompting concerns the change could make things even worse. The research estimates a further 300,000 families in danger of being pushed into poverty as a result of these measures.
"From Monday over two million households that were previously deemed too poor to pay council tax will find hefty bills landing on their doormats," said Sabrina Bushe, a researcher at NPI.
"Hitting only the poorest and most vulnerable, this tax increase - which won't raise much more money than it costs - is both unjust and unwise."