Kettering's vulnerable paying highest council tax rate in country

Vulnerable people in Kettering are still paying the highest rate of council tax in the country, according to new data.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th October 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:30 am
Council tax file pic
Council tax file pic

Councils in England, Scotland and Wales can decide for themselves what proportion of council tax people on low incomes have to pay.

Last year Kettering Council’s minimum 45 per cent payment was 10 per cent more than any of the other 325 local authorities in England.

The ruling Conservative group voted to keep the rate at 45 per cent - declining to increase it to 68 per cent - but new figures say it is still the highest charging council in the country.

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Opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab, William Knibb), said: “This is unfair and unjust.

“Why should some of the most disadvantaged people in our community still be penalised simply because they happen to live in the borough of Kettering.

“Our MP has spoken in Parliament about Kettering being an average town while clearly for those at the bottom of the pile it is far from average.

“Labour councillors remain determined to argue for Kettering to be charging an amount more in keeping with the national average.

“There is no justification for Kettering to be singled out in this way and while the administration keep repeating their boast about not rising council tax, clearly for a chunk of people, those on benefits and the disabled, not only is that not true, but once again they are being asked to subsidise the council in an unfair way and a way that no other council in the entire country thinks is fair.”

Kettering’s charging policy remains 10 per cent higher than any other local authority, with Medway and Northampton charging the second highest rate at 35 per cent.

In the north of the county Corby Council charges 8.5 per cent, while East Northants Council and Wellingborough Council charge 20 per cent.

Sixty-two councils charge nothing.

Cllr Scrimshaw added: “With neighbouring Corby charging only 8.5 per cent this means someone entitled to the maximum benefit will pay something like £400 more in Kettering than the same person would in next-door Corby.”

Kettering Council has not responded to the Northants Telegraph’s request for a comment.

From April 2013, local authorities across England were given the power to devise their own systems of Council Tax Support (CTS) for working-age adults.

It replaced the national system of the Council Tax Benefit (CTB) which ensured the poorest households did not have to pay council tax.

The council is currently consulting on its level of support for the year 2018/19 and beyond.

A consultation offers two options - keeping the minimum payment at 45 per cent for one year, or keeping it for two years.

To respond, click here.