FIRST PUBLISHED BY: THIS IS MONEY
HOPES OF A COUNCIL TAX CUT FOR PENSIONERS NEXT YEAR WERE DASHED YESTERDAY.
Lawyers warned that any discount would break human rights laws and the government’s forthcoming rules against age discrimination. Other groups such as single mothers would 'clog' the courts demanding similar privileges. The legal opinion by leading local government lawyer James Goudie QC forced a string of councils to abandon plans for Council Tax reductions for the elderly
This was despite Deputy Prime Minister having approved the scheme. Kent County Council, which introduced the idea, dropped the plan after being told it would 'bring endless legal problems and court challenges'. Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk also scrapped the proposal.
The scheme would have meant Council Tax bills for pensioners would have gone up in line with inflation, meaning they would have paid - on current predictions - average increases of around £25 a year instead of £100. Other Council Tax payers would have been asked to pay an extra £12 on their bills to fund the pensioners' discount.
Ministers now face the threat of a widespread tax rebellion and civil disobedience if the local tax goes up by the expected £100 next April. Kent Tory leader Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said last night: 'In view of the legal advice we will reluctantly not be pursuing our ideas for a pensioner rebate.
'We will, however, be putting all our energy into keeping the Council Tax down.'