Kettering's vulnerable will continue to pay highest council tax rate in country
The vulnerable and disabled in Kettering will continue to pay 45 per cent of their council tax for the next two years.
The level of council tax support means those in need currently pay the highest proportion of their bill in the country.
A consultation over future levels led to outcry that there was no option over a reduction and on Wednesday (December 13) the council voted to keep the 45 per cent taper for the next two years, as opposed to one.
Labour tabled an amendment to drop the level to 25 per cent, but it was defeated by a block Tory vote.
Labour leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said the current rate was ‘embarrassing’.
He said: “There are only four councils in the entire country that charge more than 30 per cent with only two charging the second highest rate of 35 per cent.
“Kettering however is still massively out in front, even of them, by charging a whopping 45 per cent.
“That is embarrassing.
“It puts our town in the national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
“What you may not know is that other local Conservative councils locally actually use Kettering as an excuse when setting their much lower rates, saying things like ‘well at least we’re not as bad as Kettering’.”
The Liberal Democrats’ sole representative Cllr Andrew Dutton backed the Labour amendment.
He said: “This is anything but a good news story.
“To have a dilemma there needs to be at least two options.
“This report has just one.
“People went for option two because if they did at least it would not go up after one year.”
Several members of the public addressed the council meeting and hit out at the current rate.
One war veteran who is unable to work said after essential outgoings he was left with just £93 a month to live on, and a lower rate would make a huge difference to him.
But leading Conservatives said the rate was finalised at a previous executive committee meeting and that they were only voting on whether to keep it for two years or one.
Deputy leader Cllr Lloyd Bunday said: “This proposal is to decide whether we set the rate at 45 per cent for one year or two.
“This is not to discuss the taper.
“Put forward your costed proposals with plenty of time before the budget so we can discuss them then.”
Cllr David Howes (Con) said: “What about the 55 per cent?
“What about the people who are paying to support the 45 per cent?
“Do we not have a duty to support them?
“It’s all well and good Labour taking the moral highground and the Conservatives being the nasty party and all that, but we need to think of them too.”
And Cllr Paul Marks said of Labour’s amendment: “This is a very cynical exercise.
“It’s a complete charade and it’s annoying.”
In the north of the county Corby Council charges 8.5 per cent, while East Northants Council and Wellingborough Council charge 20 per cent.
62 councils in the country charge nothing.