One of the many ways in which the Tory and Liberal Democrat government is hitting people by stealth is through changes to the Council Tax. It "allows" each authority to design its own discount scheme in place of the existing national scheme. However, the funding is being cut by 10%. In Brent that is about £5 million. That either has to come from cuts in spending or reducing the amount of discount available.
Brent Council will be making this decision on Monday evening.
The Guardian gives a rather generous interpretation of very late changes that the government has announced. In practice, these changes, which in some ways seem to go against the professed objectives of the scheme, are so late in the day that it would be enormously difficult to take them on board. The Guardian rightly observes that they came too late for an effective consultation. They are also very late for software to be changed and properly tested.
They are also very late in terms of getting people who have never paid Council Tax before engaged in the process. The Council estimates that, if the draft scheme to be debated on Monday is voted through, this would amount to more than 20,000 people. The Council is likely to set up a phone bank to contact as many of these people as possible before the Council Tax bills start arriving in mid March. There is also a major programme to try get the message though via wider publicity and door knocking, as well as a team of people for one to one sessions at the One Stop shops. All that is best organised with as much notice as possible.
Of course, it is also coming on top of all the government's other benefit changes in 2013. Either the government don't understand how difficult it is to implement its demands, or it is indifferent to the consequences for people on the ground.