Plan to continue council tax support as Bedford residents face 'cost of living crisis'

Mayor says it's important to have safety net for people in need

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 3:29 pm

Bedford Borough Council's executive has recommended that the council continues with its Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

A report presented at last night's (Wednesday, January 5) executive meeting said that the council has not proposed any changes to its Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for working-age households.

Councillor Michael Headley (LibDems, Putnoe Ward) the portfolio holder for finance, told the executive: "Unlike the majority of other councils, we still provide 100 per cent support for those that are most in need.

Mayor Dave Hodgson

"And obviously we're proposing that we'll continue to do so and that's going to be important in the year ahead as residents are facing that cost of living crisis that we're beginning to see with rising bills right across the board.

"So it's important that we do keep this scheme in place to support people," he added.

Councillor Headley said that although it wasn't proposed to make any changes to the scheme, the council still has a legal requirement to hold an annual public consultation, which received three responses at the time the report was written.

"I want to show my gratitude to those people that took the trouble to respond, the scheme wasn't changing but people still went to the effort in giving us their feedback and I appreciate that," he said.

In a verbal update, councillor Headley said that one respondent spoke about council tax banding, but this was determined by the Valuation Office Agency.

"The other two comments were around suggesting additional discounts for foster carers and for care leavers.

"This scheme is about the ability to pay and those most in need, it's not a scheme that's about introducing discounts for certain people in certain roles.

"However having said that, I would emphasise that we do have a separate discretionary scheme for care leavers.

"So having considered those responses I propose that we continue with the scheme we have to continue to support local residents," he said.

Mayor Dave Hodgson Mayor said: "I think [the scheme is] something this council should be very proud of.

"I think we're one of only 30 councils in England that has 100 per cent support, and as we approach what seems to be a real crisis in terms of inflation for people, I think it's important we do have that safety net for those most in need."

The executive agreed to recommend to full council that the unamended Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme should take effect from April 1, 2022.