Kettering Council are currently running a public consultation about how much to slash from the support given to vulnerable and disabled people on benefit towards their council tax bills.

A few years ago local councils were given the power to determine for themselves how much support to give their residents unable to pay council tax. In Kettering this support has been reduceing every year since and those residents who are entitled to the full amount of support (those on disability benefits for example), currently have to pay 45% of the total bill themselves.

This is by far the highest amount charged by any council anywhere in the country. In fact of the 326 councils nationwide 66 still charge nothing at all, while 80% charge 20% or less. There are only two councils in the whole of England that charge more than 30%, one at 35% and then Kettering way out in front, at 45% but despite this, they are currently consulting on the possibility of rising it even more, potentially up to 68%!

As part of this consultation which involves having leaflets on the front desk of the council office and a form to fill in on their website (see below) they were not intending to contact the 3,200 residents it directly affected!

I have already had meetings behind the scenes and they refused to send details out to those it involved due to the cost. The Labour Group even offered to hand-deliver them to save money but they still refused.

However, last night at a meeting of the council’s ruling executive meeting I took the opportunity of raising this issue once again under a financial report agenda item. I don’t know if it was the embarrassment of raising the issue in a public meeting where the press were in attendance, but in a private meeting afterwards the administration caved in and I got the assurance of the new Managing Director of the council that they would send the consultation forms out to the individuals affected by any potential change. This is a huge result because most people still don’t know anything about these proposed changes

The suggestion to increase council tax to these people is massively unfair, and if the 68% rate is agreed it will mean the rate they pay will have gone up by 50% in actual money terms in just one year! All the Labour Group want is for Kettering to be somewhere near the national average, and to deal with this matter in a more sensible way the same as other councils (including local Tory run councils in Northamptonshire).

The consultation runs until 1 December, please see the link below for more details and instructions in how to respond on line. It only takes a couple of minutes:

http://www.kettering.gov.uk/info/200028/council_tax/1541/local_council_tax_support