Richmond’s poorest residents might not have to pay any Council Tax next year, after the cabinet voted to take the proposal to residents.

Cabinet members voted to consult on reversing the previous administration’s policy of charging the most financially pressed residents a minimum of 15 per cent of the tax, at a meeting on September 6.

Cllr Robin Brown, cabinet member for finance and performance, said: “Since May we have been clear: we will not take from our most disadvantaged residents to balance the council’s books.

“We said in our manifesto that we would reverse the previous changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and we are delivering on that commitment. Putting more pressure on financially vulnerable residents who already face genuine hardship isn’t fair.

“Council finances are strained. Our government funding has been slashed. But, while we continue to look after the council’s finances carefully, it will not be at the expense at those who are financially vulnerable.”

Central government funded a national Council Tax Benefit scheme until April 2013.

When that stopped, the council then had to make up the tax relief itself, which together with a reduction in Revenue Support Grant cost about £800,000 in its first year.

Since then, the grant has been completely cut, so the council pays for the full cost of the scheme – estimated at £10.5 million a year.

The proposed 2019/20 scheme is likely to reduce Council Tax receipts by about £400,000.

At the meeting, Cabinet members also agreed to continue with the Local Assistance Scheme (LAS), which gives support for people with specific difficulties like winter energy bills.

And the council is in talks with Citizens Advice Richmond about setting up a fund for people experiencing harship who are not eligible for the LAS (for example, because they are not getting the qualifying benefits), of £20,000 in its first year, and £10,000 in subsequent years.