SENIOR councillors seeking Blackburn with Darwen views on plans to change council tax benefit got more than they bargained for when they were told: Scrap the mayor, reduce their own numbers and expenses, and sack staff.
The borough executive board sent out 23,000 letters and 7,500 emails asking for a response to its plan to make all claimants pay a fifth of their council tax and cut other payments to support householders on low incomes.
The move could cost some of the poorest households in the borough between £250 and £300 a year.
They also asked for other ideas to meet the shortfall of government grant funding for council tax support before a new scheme is finalised in January.
A total of 1,212 responses were received, including 137 from people with their own ideas to cut budgets.
A report received by the executive board meeting revealed: “A significant number of respondents suggested that the number of council employees should be cut, with particular reference made to higher paid senior management.
“A number of respondents were also in favour of reducing the number of councillors and their expenses and ending the position of mayor and associated expenditure.”
Other suggestions that received multiple comments included:
- Reduce in number or close the children’s centres, community centres and libraries.
- Stop free leisure facilities
- Stop street cleaning, stop employing litter pickers and reduce the amount of refuse collections
- Stop grass cutting and planting flowers in parks and garden
- End to contract with outsourcer Capita
- Abolish the Shuttle council newspaper.
More than half of those who responded (58 per cent) supported the council’s plan to reduce council tax benefit by up to 20 per cent and 33 per cent were strongly opposed to it.
Two thirds of respondents called for those on disability and incapacity benefits to be protected from the reduction but 72 per cent opposed any moves to raise council tax to pay for the reduction in government cash for the new scheme.
Borough resources boss Andy Kay told the meeting: “By law we have to consider all responses including those ideas submitted by respondents.”