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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 18:21 GMT
Pensioner tax plan scrapped
Kent County Council logo
The tax plan for pensioners would have been too costly for the council
Plans to peg council tax rises to inflation for pensioners in Kent have been abandoned on legal grounds.

Kent County Council (KCC) said they had to scrap plans for the scheme, which would have seen other tax payers paying about 10 more to subsidise pensioners.

The scheme would have eased the financial burden facing OAPs, who would have had their rises pegged to about 2.5%.

Several other counties, including Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk, were also interested in implementing the plan.

'Risks outweighed benefits'

But lawyers told KCC the move could have opened the floodgates for legal action from other low income groups, such as the disabled and single mothers, also seeking a discount.

Nick Chard, the council's cabinet member for finance, said James Goudy QC - the top legal expert in local government finance - had made it very clear that a legal challenge was possible.

"If we were legally challenged and lost, it could be a very expensive thing for us and we were just not prepared to see the risks that we thought could happen - they far outweighed the benefits."

He said the costs for the legal advice were shared with the other five counties thinking along the same lines and everyone came to exactly the same conclusion.

However, Mr Chard added the council would continue its publicity campaign to "ensure that pensioners claim the full benefits to which they are entitled to".

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