Bid to block council tax challenge

Lady JusticeLocal authority bosses have tried to block a single mother's High Court challenge to their new council tax plans.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says the London Borough of Haringey acted unlawfully when consulting on a "council tax reduction" scheme.
Lawyers representing the woman told a High Court judge that the council's consultation was "flawed" and "unfair". But the council argued that its consultation process was "extensive", "clear" and "comprehensive" - and called for the challenge to be dismissed.

Mr Justice Underhill was hearing arguments from lawyers representing both sides at a hearing in London.

The judge ruled that the woman bringing the claim should not be identified. He had been told by the woman's lawyers that her children were "young and vulnerable" and might be "teased or bullied" if the family's financial position was reported.

The woman's lawyers said the council backed her application for an anonymity order.

A law firm representing the woman says the case puts councils' new tax plans into the legal spotlight for the first time in the wake of Government welfare reforms.

Ministers are scrapping the council tax benefit system from April as part of welfare reform legislation. Local authorities are being asked to introduce their own council tax support schemes - but with a 10% cut in funding.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell says it plans to challenge decisions by a number of councils after being contacted by "vulnerable" people who thought that changes proposed in their areas were unfair.

In January, research showed that poor people could face higher council tax bills as a result of the changes. A study by the Resolution Foundation independent research group showed that three in four local authorities in England were planning to increase demands on low-income families.

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Bid to block council tax challenge

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