WORTHING Borough Council will freeze council tax rates for a fifth consecutive year.
At a full council meeting in Worthing Town Hall on Tuesday night, 26 councillors voted in favour of the budget with eight abstentions.
While council tax will not be increased, residents who previously benefitted from the council tax support scheme will now be required to contribute £5 a week in council tax.
Councillor Keith Sunderland proposed an amendment in a bid to stop the change from happening.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Sunderland said: “This will result in some of the poorest people, who at the present benefit from support, paying £5 a week.
“The distress caused to these residents, who are often working very long hours in poorly paid jobs, will be severe.”
Council leader Dan Humphreys strongly disagreed and described the decision as an issue of fairness and morality.
Mr Humphreys said: “It is hard to pay the council tax bills.
“We’ve got to pay them. I know it’s hard and I speak from experience. Those spending an awful lot of money on commuting, on childcare, on private sector rent might not find themselves with more disposable income than those people who are receiving council tax support benefit.
“I’m sure there are a lot of people in Worthing who fall into that bracket.”
Mr Humphreys said the benefit system had become a trap that ‘ensnares’ people and encourages them not to work.
Councillor Mary Lermitte followed by saying that the council does care about people.
The decision to implement the tax followed the results of a questionnaire distributed to every tax payer in Worthing.
Mr Sunderland’s amendment was put to a vote and defeated – 25 voted against, with seven voting for and two abstaining.
Many councillors were complimentary of the rest of the budget, praising the executive for another freeze.
Councillor Callum Buxton congratulated the leader and the council for yet another freeze.