A council leader has blamed his head of finance for sparking fears student council tax discounts could be scrapped or cut.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s finance spokesman Leo Littman wrote to Government minister Eric Pickles calling for powers to cut or scrap the discounts for the city’s student and single households.
The news was revealed in the November 24 edition of The Argus.
But following the reports, the Green party issued a statement distancing itself from its own councillor’s proposal.
Council leader Jason Kitcat told The Argus yesterday (November 26): “It [the letter] was sent in error by Councillor Littman and should not have gone out. It is not something our administration is looking to do.”
Coun Littman, who is the party’s spokesman on finance and deputy chairman of the powerful policy and resources committee, was unavailable for comment.
Coun Kitcat added his administration had “no intention” of scrapping the discounts, a move which would have netted the Green-led local authority millions of pounds in extra revenue each year.
'Not party policy'
He said: “The letter does not represent the Green administration’s position or Green Party policy.”
The letter was sent to The Argus on Thursday, November 22 by the Green Party.
But Conservative councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “If it is not their policy or intention to charge students council tax or reduce the single person discount then why write a letter to the Secretary of State asking for the power to make these changes?
“I don’t believe that such a senior member of the administration would send such a letter without the backing of his party.
“This just shows the level of disarray that the Green administration is in.”
Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “The Greens have made a clear decision to write and request these powers. They would have informed officers of that. They cannot now pretend as though they had nothing to do with this.”
About 57,000 properties in the city currently claim council tax exemption or discounts, including 4,500 student homes and 45,000 homes lived in by single occupants.
Student households do not pay council tax. Single occupants get 25% off.
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