Haringey Council has approved a raft of tax changes aimed at easing the financial strain on some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

Labour and Liberal Democrat members gave their full support to a benefits shake-up that means 6,000 low-income families will no longer have to pay council tax at a full council meeting on Thursday.

The commitment was one of the Labour group’s key manifesto pledges during last year’s local election campaign.

Cllr Patrick Berryman, cabinet member for finance, said council tax changes brought in by the coalition government had benefited top-rate taxpayers while squeezing the poorest.

He said: “Of the many draconian cuts that the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition made, one of them was to abolish council tax benefit.

“This placed a new burden on many low-income families – and though never reaching the depths of the Lib Dems, there were occasions during austerity when Labour council choices were perhaps, with hindsight, not always the best.

“The changes proposed tonight aim to redress some of the unfairness created and redistribute the burden of council tax to those with the broadest shoulders.”

Under the previous council tax reduction scheme, the maximum level of support provided by the local authority was 80.2 per cent.

The shake-up means working age claimants with children will get 100 per cent support from April 1, so they will not pay council tax.

Enfield Independent:

Councillors also agreed to scrap council tax discounts on empty properties.

Ending the discounts, which applied to unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties and vacant properties that either require or are undergoing major repair work, is expected to raise nearly £463,000 a year.

The final change saw councillors agree to double the amount of council tax on long-term empty homes in a bid to boost housing supply in the borough.

The extra charge will apply from April 1 to homes that have been left empty and substantially unfurnished for two years – and could initially raise an extra £93,000 a year for the council.

Some groups of people, such as members of the armed forces posted away from home for long periods, will be exempt from the tax increase.

All three council tax changes received unanimous cross-party support from Labour and Liberal Democrat members.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Dennison said: “In an ideal world, council tax would be scrapped all together. It clobbers low earners most and families bills are based on house prices from 28 years ago.

“However, with little prospect of MPs changing it, a proper council tax reduction scheme is a sensible step forward.”