Kettering Borough Council are no longer the highest charging council in the country for their disabled and vulnerable residents.

Three years after the then Councillor in charge of finance said she expected other councils to ‘catch-up’ with Kettering’s position, latest figures showing the different rates charges from all 326 councils in England and Wales show that at last, one council has actually overtaken Kettering’s position and now Kettering only offer the second least amount of support in the country of any council.

Council Tax Support is the amount of help vulnerable residents (the disabled and those on benefits) get towards paying their Council Tax bills. Up until a few years a ago a government grant meant that councils could offer up to 100% discount, but now they are asked to decide for themselves how much they charge which has led to some big discrepancies up and down the country.

Of the 326 council in England 63 (19%) still charge absolutely nothing (one more than last year) , while over 76% of all councils charge 20% or less.

There are now only five councils in the entire country that charge more than 30% with North Lincolnshire now taking the top spot by charging 50% but still leaving Kettering way out ahead of the others in second place by charging a whopping 45%.

With neighbouring Corby charging only 8.5% 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.

Normally at this time of year we would be entering a public consultation as to what rate to charge next year but last year KBC cynically agreed to keep their high rate of 45% for two year meaning the councils leadership would not need to discuss this matter at all this year and therefore not receive any more bad publicity over the issue which they have year on year over the last few years since pushing Kettering to the head of the national rate table.

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 the administration keeps repeating their boast about not raising council tax. However it’s clear that for a chunk of people – those on benefits and the disabled – that this is simply not true. Not only that, but once again they are being asked to subsidise the council in an unfair way. A way that apart from one, no other council in the entire country thinks is fair.

You can see how Kettering Borough Council’s Council Tax Support Scheme compares to every other Council in the country in a PDF by clicking here.

(The information to create the PDF came from http://www.counciltaxsupport.org/schemes/)