Over 12,000 people on low incomes will be hit by a cut in the help Redbridge council gives them to pay their council tax.

At a full council meeting on Thursday January 21, Redbridge Council voted to decrease its council tax reduction scheme.

This means council taxpayers will now have to pay at least 15 per cent of their bills, rather than the previous figure of five per cent.

The 12,000 people who benefit from the scheme across the borough will have to pay £3.31 a week in council tax, instead of the £1.14 they pay now.

The council also wants to increase its hardship discretionary fund from £75,000 to £125,000 for the year 2016/17, which offers emergency support for claimants on the lowest incomes.

Cabinet member for housing, payments and benefits Councillor Ross Hatfull said: “The sheer scale of cuts to local government funding in 2016 means there is no money to spare.

“This is the best deal the council can afford, and even with the changes it will remain one of the most generous schemes across London.

Barking and Dagenham’s council tax reduction scheme pays for 75 per cent of its claimants council tax, while Waltham Forest pays 77 per cent, and Havering 85 per cent.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group for Redbridge, Councillor Ian Bond, said: “On May 16 2014, Councillor Wes Streeting and the Labour group promised not to cut these services, and now they doing just that.”

Leader of the Conservatives, Councillor Paul Canal, said: “This is a matter of choice.

"The council is choosing to spend £4 million on a swimming pool, while the 12,000 people in this borough who use the council tax reduction pay for it.”

In response, Councillor Wes Streeting said: “We are doing the very best we can to mitigate these cuts, but not making this change would mean cutting frontline services that protect the elderly and children.

“This would mean people would come to harm, and at worst die.”