Last night at Kettering Borough Council’s executive committee, the councillors in charge decided that the rate of support they offer local unemployed and disabled people on benefits should remain the least amount offered by any council anywhere in the country!

For some time Kettering Council have offered the least amount of support anywhere meaning those affected have to pay the highest amount of Council Tax anywhere and last night it was decided to recommend to next week’s full council meeting that the rate remains at its current level for the next two years, despite a series of passionate local speakers pleading with them to reduce the amount charged.

One disabled resident described how after paying his Council Tax he has little to live on and that he often can’t afford to heat his flat or eat. Another spoke about the increased use of food banks and the hardship it caused

The final decision will be taken at next week’s Full Council meeting although it is expected that the Conservative Group will simply follow their leadership and vote this through despite opposition from Labour and others.

Last night Cllr. Mick Scrimshaw, the Labour Opposition leader warned that there was likely to be “a good old-fashioned, finger-pointing, political row” on this issue next week, before going on to say “how genuinely disappointed he was at the decision” and that the current high rate “was an embarrassment to the council, and both to the town and the Borough of Kettering” and that it clearly showed the Executive Committee “had no understanding of how people on benefits lived”.

The level of support offered to vulnerable people in Kettering means they have to pay far more of their council tax than anywhere else in the country at 45%. Out of 324 councils only two charge anywhere near that at 35%, while the vast majority charge much less with 77% of all councils charging 20% or less and with 66 still charging nothing at all!

My colleagues and I have long argued that the rate charged should be something like the national average and that it was ridiculous for Kettering to be known as the highest charging authority in the country. Next door Corby for example charge only 8.5% which means a similar person on Corby will probably pay between £300 and £400 less than their equivalent in Kettering. How can that be fair? I don’t believe people should be penalised simply because they happen to live in the Borough of Kettering!