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Brid Cabinet Members Vote To Strip £35,000 From Town Council

January 21, 2014

ERYC Cabinet which includes four Bridlington councillors ( Cllrs Chadwick, Harrap, Burton and Matthews)  has voted to strip Bridlington Town Council of £35,000 given by government to pass on to town and councils to compensate for changes to Council tax benefits.

When the ERYC Cabinet made their decision about which town council got a slice of the government support money, they only considered three options.  All of them were based on  a new criteria of whether or not that town or parish had increased or decrease their taxes in the previous year

The bean-counters produced tables to show the winners and losers for the 3 options.  Option 1 best reflected the stated aim of rewarding those who’d used the money to reduce their tax, and would have supported Bridlington who did just that.  However that penalised Withernsea, which was named as the worst affected by the new method of calculating the Tax Base.

That begs the question, how was each town affected by the change?  The answer was buried in the Cabinet documents, and needed some calculations to show it.

So what has changed?

Previously, the town council set their part of the council tax called  Precept and this is all collected via ERYC, either directly from residents or from central government payment where the householder was claiming Council Tax Benefit.  In the new system, government pays a smaller amount to ERYC to cover benefits, and also reduced the benefits to some people.  As you can imagine, places like Brid being designated an area of deprivation has plenty of poorer pensioners, seasonal workers and other people who got Council Tax Benefit.

Council Tax is charged at different rates, so a Band H mansion costs more than twice the tax on a Band A flat. Whether an unemployed person or pensioner lives in a cheap flat or a mansion makes the sums difficult to compare between towns, so the bean-counters standardise it by calculating the ‘Tax Base’.   The Tax Base is the number of houses all paying at the average Band D rate that you would need to raise the same amount of money as all the different ones you really have.

The only change to Brid Town Council is the ways the bills are calculated. Pensioners were protected by government so that if they’re on a low income they don’t pay any council tax at all.  Where the government used to pay it for them, now it is taken out of the calculation altogether . Now everyone else in town now pays the shortfall

Tax Base before the change can be calculated from he Precept and Tax figures for past years and compare it with the new figures listed in the Cabinet documents. Comparing those towns with a tax base over 2500, and how much each would get under the Cabinet’s options, looks like this:

Tax Table

What this shows is that yes, Withernsea is the worst affected. But it also shows that Bridlington is not far behind

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. If you don’t ask for the right statistics, how can you make the right decision?  How many of the four Bridlington Cabinet Members knew that their town was this badly affected by the change in tax base calculation when they voted against supporting the Town Council?

Cllr Chadwick should have done it is her portfolio.

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