A BLACKPOOL MP has criticised changes to benefits which mean lower income families are faced with bigger tax bills than before.
Gordon Marsden’s comments come after Blackpool Council confirmed it was still receiving 1,000 calls a day on the new council tax reduction scheme.
Labour member Mr Marsden, who represents Blackpool South, described the system as “a disgrace”.
He said: “The responsibility for the pain and hardship people now face with the new settlement is fairly and squarely laid at the door of the Government which has cut the sum of money available for council tax benefits and then tried to devolve the blame for that down to local councils.
“It is a disgrace the council has been put in this position by the policies of the Government.”
The changes, which came into effect last week, mean councils now administrate their own Council Tax Benefit schemes – but the amount of Government support has been reduced.
Working age people who currently receive council tax benefit will pay more council tax from April 1, and those on benefits who have not had to pay before will now have to.
Tory MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard, said all councils could have applied for a transitional grant to help vulnerable residents, but Blackpool chose not to.
“Why can Wyre and Fylde protect its most vulnerable, but Blackpool can’t.
“This shows the council can talk the good talk when it comes to fairness, but lets down the poorest in this town.”
But Blackpool Council says the changes are “a direct result of the cuts the Government has made to our budgets”. It received 5,600 calls about the changes on Tuesday, 2,000 on Wednesday and 1,000 on Thursday and Friday.