As thousands of our poorest residents face court summons for council tax arrears the response of Wirral’s council leader Phil Davies in last week’s Wirral Globe simply beggars belief. Shrugging your shoulders and blaming the government simply isn’t good enough.
In reality, this assault on Wirral’s poor is about much more than government cuts. It has been sharply compounded by the calamitous failure to manage Wirral’s resources over many years; what Cllr Davies himself calls “bad financial management”.
When the government handed responsibility for council tax benefit to local authorities in April it also cut the funding by 10%. Many councils took the sensible decision to absorb this cost as the sums involved were so small they did not warrant collection.
However, despite Cllr Davies’ own commitment to “protect the most vulnerable” Wirral chose to charge residents previously entitled to council tax relief at a rate of 22%. This is one of the highest rates in the whole of England. Our council took a 10% cut in funding and implemented a 22% increase in charges on Wirral’s poorest residents.
However, rather than accepting responsibility for this social injustice Cllr Davies takes the easy way out and blames the government.