Councillors have spared thousands of low income households from having to pay council tax.

Currently about 11,000 homes in Kirklees benefit from a 100% discount on council tax.

Amid pressure to make huge cuts to the budget, Kirklees Council officials came up with a plan to charge those who pay nothing just 10% of their bill.

The move would have brought nearly £1m into the council’s coffers.

But amid the backdrop of controversial changes to the benefits system, the ruling Labour Cabinet snubbed the idea, saying it had vowed to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

Universal Credit, the biggest shake-up of the UK benefits system for decades, was introduced to Huddersfield and Kirklees last month.

The flagship policy of the Conservative government has been criticised for leaving claimants without their benefits for at least six weeks.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Friday, Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member responsible for finance, said: “My view is these are some of the most vulnerable groups in Kirklees.

Kirklees Labour member, Clr Graham Turner

“By cutting this we are putting pressure on those who are already paying the price for this government’s economic policies.

“This Cabinet has promised to do all it can to help those most in need.”

Clr Viv Kendrick backed the move.

She said: “We have no idea what things people are having to pay more for already, so I absolutely support this.”

Council leader, Clr David Sheard, said it was odd that councils had discretion on the matter and said there should be a standard scheme across West Yorkshire.

“There’s a bit of a postcode lottery here,” he commented.

Leader of Kirklees Council Clr David Sheard.

“We ought to be talking to other areas in West Yorkshire to see if we can create the same scheme. It’s important that we aim for consistency.”

About 37,000 households in Kirklees benefit from reduced bills – most paying one fifth of what the full bill would be.

Altogether the so-called ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme’ costs Kirklees taxpayers almost £29m per year.

Removing the 100% discount would have mostly affected severely disabled people and single parents with children younger than five, whose income is lower than £157.82 per week.

A handful of people in receipt of a war pension, who are still young enough to work, also get free council tax.

Instead of slashing £960,000 from the £28.8m of subsidies the council gives out, the Cabinet agreed to save £101,122 by targeting just 139 households that meet income and benefits requirements but still have a high level of savings or assets.

The savings threshold will be reduced from £16,000 to £8,000 meaning those 139 homes will no longer be eligible for the council tax reduction scheme.