John Leech, the sole opposition member on Manchester Council, rejected the Council’s budget today as proposals saw the city’s least well of residents hit with a double tax hike of more than 20%.
Despite the Liberal Democrat voicing his opposition in the last public meeting, Manchester Council is going ahead with the slashing of Council Tax Support for low earners from 85% to an all-time low of 82.5%, down again from 90% just a few years ago.
Residents on Council Tax Support will have to pay 17.5% of the new increased Council Tax, with reduced support, meaning their total payable hike in tax is more than 20%.
Mr Leech, who was cut off by the Lord Mayor after just six minutes of scrutinising the budget, publicly hit out at the Labour Council’s plans several times, saying that this was a terrible example of “those with the broadest shoulders bearing the greatest burden.”
This means that the lowest earning residents in Manchester will essentially be hit with a 20% tax hike, while the rest of the city sees just 4.9%.
John Leech, who agreed that the general tax increase of 4.9% was necessary to fund social care and frontline services, said he couldn’t support a budget that targets the city’s poorest and least well off residents.
The former Manchester MP of ten years said: “I accept the need to increase council tax to fund frontline services, however, where I vehemently disagree with the approach of this Council is in relation to the Council Tax Support which is being slashed to an all-time low of 82.5%.
“This will mean that the poorest people in Manchester will essentially see a staggering increase of 20% in the tax they pay each year.
“I made my opposition to this very clear at the last public meeting and my stance hasn’t changed. The least well off people in our city should not be bearing the brunt of these increases, and as long as they are, I will not be supporting this budget.”
The move will save Manchester Council an extra £1m a year, but the lonely opposition member is not happy. He added: “This is not an example of those with the broadest shoulders bearing the greatest burden.”
Despite the relentless forces of Mr Leech’s opposition, the budget was approved by the remaining 95 Labour Councillors.
The plans will come into effect from April 2017.