The leader of the Isle of Wight Council is looking to reinstate an exceptional hardship fund — which has helped more than 1,000 vulnerable Islanders since it was introduced.
It would rescind a decision made in January by the full council to scrap the fund and use the money from it towards increasing the amount of council tax support offered to residents with low incomes.
The move was first proposed by Cllr Clare Mosdell, the Conservative group leader and was supported at a vote by 21 fellow councillors, while 14 opposed it and one abstained.
While the council tax support will stay at the approved level — offering up to a 75 per cent discount on council tax bills — Cllr Phil Jordan has announced the cabinet executive would look to rescind the “unfortunate amendment” at the next full council meeting later this month.
Speaking at a meeting last week, Cllr Jordan said the cabinet is in favour of getting the best support it can offer to the most vulnerable and most in need but the cost of increasing the local council tax support scheme hadn’t been taken into account,
To increase the support to 75 per cent, the authority had to find an additional £366,000, and to “make it sound plausible and palatable”, Cllr Jordan said, the exceptional hardship fund was removed.
The discretionary fund further helps those eligible for the council tax support scheme, who are facing additional “genuine hardship”, by paying even more of an individual’s council tax.
Cllr Jordan announced his intention to submit a motion to rescind the “unfortunate decision” full council made so “the essential support for the most needed in our community and Island” can be reinstated, he said.
During the discussion at full council in January, some councillors said the application process to submit a claim to the hardship fund was difficult and degrading and people felt like they lost their dignity applying for it.
There was no clarity at the meeting as to how much was in the exceptional hardship fund, or how many successful applications had been made since it was introduced in 2016.