A SENIOR politician last night likened new benefit rules to the poll tax.
Kirklees Council’s deputy leader Clr David Sheard yesterday criticised the Government for using “evil legislation” to force councils to bring in cuts.
Ministers plan to change the way council tax benefit is allocated across the country.
Pensioners will not face any reduction, but the Government has ordered councils to draw up plans to deal with a 10% cut for under-65s – a move which would hit more than 20,000 people in Kirklees.
The council’s cabinet yesterday agreed to consult on the plan – but Clr Sheard criticised ministers for forcing through the cuts.
The Heckmondwike Labour man told colleagues at yesterday’s meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall that the changes had some similarities with the poll tax.
That controversial policy was abandoned after huge protests which contributed to the fall of prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1990.
Clr Sheard said: “The Government intend to cut the amount of money paid out in council tax benefit but, rather than do it themselves, they are putting the onus on local authorities.
“People with long memories will remember this was the thinking behind the poll tax.
“The Government would like councils to cut services and they like to kick people who are receiving benefits and make the hardest-hit pay more.
“This is some of the most evil legislation brought out.
“We will do as we’re told to do like good little councils and do the Government’s bidding.”
The Labour cabinet voted unanimously to launch a consultation on the proposed changes which have been drawn up by Kirklees officers.
Under the proposal, council tax benefit would be kept at its current level for three vulnerable groups:
Single parents with children under-five.
People suffering from a severe disability.
War pensioners and war widows.
The plan would mean that the £3.2m cut would hit all remaining council tax benefit recipients in Kirklees.
If the proposal goes ahead it would mean that 21,598 people in Kirklees would face a council tax benefit cut of 29%.
The new system is due to come into force in April 2013.