Kettering Conservatives have voted through a proposal to keep the level of support that they offer to vulnerable people at the lowest rate of any council in the whole country.

Tonight at a meeting of Kettering Borough Council to decide the level of Council Tax Support the council offer local people. We were asked to agree to keep the support offered to disabled people and unemployed people at the current low rate for another two years. This means that local people who are affected get less support than anywhere else in the entire country and therefore have much higher Council Tax bills than anywhere else.

I am disappointed to say that this was agreed, but only after I proposed an amendment which would have meant vulnerable people paid 25% rather than the current high rate of 45%.

Below is a copy of the speech I made to the council. I also asked for a recorded vote so everybody knows how their own individual councillors voted and these results are shown at the bottom of this post.

Amendment to the Council Tax Support agenda item proposed by me:

“That the maximum amount that eligible people would have to pay towards the cost of their overall Council Tax bill be set at 25% not the proposed 45%”

My Speech:

This will change the recommendation currently before us and will help address the unfortunate position that Kettering Council have gotten themselves into over this issue.

When I addressed the Executive Committee last week about this, I told them I was disappointed that once again this council planned to offer the least amount of support than any other council in the country.

I went on to say it was embarrassing for the council and embarrassing for the town and the borough s a whole, and it is! Kettering offers the least amount of support to help people pay their council tax than any other council in the country… And by quite a way.

Of the 326 councils in England 62 still charge the disabled and people on benefits absolutely nothing. While over 77% of all council’s charge 20% or less.

There are only four councils in the entire country that charge more than 30% with only two charging the second highest rate of 35%. Kettering, however, is still massively out in front, even of them, by charging a whopping 45%.

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”.

I’ve only lived in Kettering 30 years and one of the reasons I live here and chose to make my home here and to bring up my children here is the people. Kettering people are kind and generous and even though your so-called consultation on this issue was designed not to give people the opportunity to comment or to pass on their own views, lots did by ignoring the official consultation form and sending in their own separate comments. Those comments were presented to the Executive last week and included comments such as.

  • To punish the most vulnerable in our society seems a very unfair way to address [the council’s financial problems]
  • It is absolutely disgusting that you have the highest rate in the country and are one of the worst councils for it.
  • I wish to complain about the diabolical lack of support KBC gives towards council tax bills for extremely vulnerable people in this borough
  • I find it outrageous that the council is seeking to maintain …the highest and most unfair support system in the country.

I could go on, there were over 20 pages of them!

As I say… Embarrassing, and not at all in line with the generous nature of Kettering people.

This is a political decision. It is based upon a political ideology that people should fend for themselves, and is based on the notion that everyone out of work can simply get off their backsides and get a job.

Absolute nonsense! It doesn’t allow for the disabled, and doesn’t allow for the very genuine reasons that a lot of people have in finding a full-time job and nor does it take into account that the disabled and the unemployed have had their support cut time and time again by the government’s so-called austerity agenda.

To repeat a point I made at the executive, it simply shows that the Conservative Party locally have no understanding of what life on benefits is like.

It used to be that on this issue you argued you were doing it to encourage people back to work, as if you were somehow doing them some sort of favour. At least you no longer seem to be making that claim, but you are still pushing a large financial burden onto those who are least able to meet it.

By agreeing the amendment for the level to be set at its previous rate of 25% we will still charge more than most councils, but we will also be sending a clear message to those residents affected, that the council does support them, does care about them and does understand their plight. By not doing so, you will send the exact opposite message.

Councillor Mick Scrimshaw

Leader of the Labour Group, Kettering Borough Council

Voted for the Amendment:

  • Linda Adams (LAB)
  • Michael Brown (IND)
  • Maggie Don (LAB)
  • Andrew Dutton (LIB DEM)
  • Ruth Groome (IND)
  • Anne Lee (LAB)
  • Clark Mitchell (LAB)
  • Mick Scrimshaw (LAB)
  • Keli Watts (LAB)

Voted Against the Amendment:

  • Duncan Bain (CON)
  • Cedwien Brown (CON)
  • Lloyd Bunday (CON)
  • John Currall (CON)
  • Ashley Davies (CON)
  • Mark Dearing (CON)
  • David Howes (CON)
  • Ian Jelley (CON)
  • Shirley Lynch (CON)
  • Paul Marks (CON)
  • Cliff Moreton (CON)
  • Russell Roberts (CON)
  • Mark Rowley (CON)
  • Jan Smith (CON)
  • Margaret Talbot (CON)
  • Mike Tebbutt (CON)
  • Lesley Thurland (CON)
  • Gregory Titcombe (CON)

Did Not Vote (abstain):

  • James Burton (CON Deputy Mayor)
  • Scott Edwards (CON Mayor)

Absent:

  • June Derbyshire (CON)
  • Jim Hakewill (CON)
  • Jenny Henson (CON)
  • Philip Hollobone (CON)
  • David Soans (CON)
  • Karl Sumpter (CON)
  • Jonathan West (LAB)