Three ways to help people facing hardship
During the by-election in Clifton with Maidenway, Andy Symons our candidate and also the Chair of Torbay Labour Party set out three policies that would have an immediate impact on low-income families in Torbay.
Andy said, “In my role as an advice worker, I see the impact of poverty and low pay every day. All the statistics tell us that debt and money worries are the biggest cause of family break-up. It has a domino effect on life chances from housing through to children’s education and health.”
Labour will continue to campaign for:
A 100% reduction on Council Tax for those on the lowest incomes.
In Torbay, everyone has to pay a minimum of 30% of their Council Tax. Other local authorities have demonstrated that a full reduction can be achieved, so why not here?
You will not be surprised to learn that those on the lowest incomes are also those who are most likely to default on Council Tax payments. If you calculate the cost of recovering these debts and the costs to other services that support those in greatest need, you quickly realise that this policy is a no-brainer. It makes economic sense.
Increase funding for advice and support services
Over the past decade, Torbay Council has reduced funding to a range of voluntary organisations which help people in debt. Many will have Council Tax arrears. We need to increase financial support to these organisations. We should also follow the lead of some other Devon Councils and write-off previous debts where the ratepayer can demonstrate that they are now sticking to a payment plan.
Fund a massive benefits take-up campaign
Despite what we read in the media many people, particularly the elderly, still feel stigmatised by money issues and do not claim the benefits they are entitled to. Many others simply do not know about the support available. Labour calls on the Council to run a massive benefits take-up campaign aimed at families and the elderly.
Torbay has the highest deprivation levels in the South West, with 7,000 children living in poverty, so if this is not a priority there is something very wrong. These three policies would go a long way to helping some of the most vulnerable in our local community. These are practical, common-sense solutions that should be implemented immediately.
We have considerable admiration and praise for the work of volunteers in Torbay who are helping those in greatest need. Most will agree that it simply does not make sense to take legal action against people for Council Tax arrears and then direct them to food banks so that they can feed their families.
We know these changes can be delivered because it is being done elsewhere. When you combine the cost of support services, these policies make considerable economic sense.