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WEST SUSSEX PUSHES LOCAL GOVERNMENT MINISTER OVER TAXES

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'Government imposed increased taxes on local authorities have contributed to the high levels of council tax for Wes...
'Government imposed increased taxes on local authorities have contributed to the high levels of council tax for West Sussex residents,' says Henry Smith, the incoming leader of West Sussex CC.

'We are very aware of the difficulties faced by many people, particularly pensioners on fixed incomes, in paying the increasing levels of council tax.

'Some counties are proposing that council tax increases for pensioners should be capped in line with inflation. We support this idea so long as other residents aren't expected to foot the bill. We think that central government should make up the difference.'

West Sussex experienced a very difficult budget this year as the government switched funding away from the south-east. The county council needed an 18.5 per cent council tax increase to ensure the continuation of essential services for the people of West Sussex.

Henry Smith continued: 'Government are saying that they have increased funding to local authorities. What they're not acknowledging is they've also increased the tax burden. It's very much a case of 'smoke and mirrors.'

'This year the effect on West Sussex County Council £11m in more taxes, which includes increased landfill tax, National Insurance contributions and aggregate tax.

'What we're suggesting is that government should give us back these taxes. We could then use this money to keep down the council tax burden for pensioners.

'If the increase was, say 10 per cent, pegging the increase to 2.5 per cent for pensioners would cost £5.6m.

'If the government agreed to rebate some of the money we have to pay them in taxes it would enable us to help pensioners without penalising other residents.'

West Sussex has a greater proportion of over 60s than the national average - around 200,000, which represents 25 per cent of the county's population.

'I am writing in the strongest possible terms to local government minister Nick Raynsford pointing out the impact of centrally imposed taxes. The current situation is a funding 'merry-go-round' of giving with one hand whilst taking with the other. I will be asking him for a rebate sufficient to allow us to fund proposals to protect pensioners.'

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