A PLANNED council tax increase has been slammed as an attack on the poor and vulnerable.
Opposition councillors have blasted Conservative-run Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) for the proposed 1.9 per cent hike.
Labour group leader Justin Madders said many families would find it difficult to keep their heads above water because the rise coincides with council tax benefit cuts.
Cllr Madders said: “Councils up and down the country are implementing in full the government cuts to council tax benefit which will see low-income families’ council tax bills rise, some by up to £600 a year, from April.
“Families are facing a hike of more than 330 per cent in the most severe cases.
“This policy direction chills me to the bone.
“CWaC are set to demand increased payments from the borough’s poorest working-age households who currently pay either no council tax or a reduced charge.
“You can call it ‘localism’ but I don’t think cutting £2.6 million and then the Tory-led government saying to the council ‘you decide which disadvantaged groups you attack’ is any kind of local democracy.”
CWaC has frozen council tax for the past two years but now hopes to raise almost £140 million by asking households to dig deeper.
The authority says an ‘ageing population, difficult economic climate, inflation increases and a desire to improve services’ has increased the financial pressure on the council.
The planned rise will see council tax for a band D property go up from £1,254.59 to £1,275.23 a year.
Cllr Madders said the double whammy of cutting council tax benefit and increasing council tax targeted the poorest households.
“The Labour group wants to send a message back to central government that this is wrong – it is unfair and attacks the most vulnerable in society,” he said.
“This comes at the same time as we see cuts in income tax for higher earners and reductions in corporation tax.
“It sticks in the throat that we are being asked to take money away from those who are unemployed or on low incomes when some of the richest in society get a tax cut.
“Fuel price rises and food inflation are already squeezing living standards and I fear what will happen in April when this comes in at the same time as the ‘bedroom tax’.
“Is it any wonder we have food banks popping up all over the country? Local people are being put in an impossible position by this government.”
Executive members were expected to approve the increase when they met last night with the proposals going before the full council on February 28.