Sham consultation from Kettering Council with the level of Council Tax support for the disabled & vulnerable

By Mick Scrimshaw on October 5, 2017

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I’m very disappointed with Kettering Borough Council’s latest public consultation on the level of support they offer the disabled and the vulnerable to help with their Council Tax bills.

The Executive Committee made up of councillors from the ruling Conservative group recently made a decision not to alter the level of support they offered. However they said they would go to public consultation on whether this position should last for one or two years.

At that meeting I reminded them that Kettering Borough Council currently offers the least amount of support of any of the 326 councils in the entire country! They currently expect people to pay at least 45% of their bills which is way above the national average.

Currently there are 62 councils that still charge their vulnerable residents absolutely nothing, while more than 77% of all councils charge 20% or less. There are only four councils in the whole country charging more than 30% with the next highest from Kettering charging 35% compared to Kettering’s 45%.

This means for example that those eligible in Kettering will be paying about £400 a year more than if they lived over the border in neighbouring Corby.

Labour Councillors have long argued that our rate should be more in keeping with the national average and I told the committee I didn’t think it fair that vulnerable people should be penalised just because they happened to live in the borough of Kettering.

Previous public consultations have always been put on the front page of the council’s website. They have also given the opportunity to not only answer specific questions but also to give their comments. However the online form for this consultation is hidden away on a back page of the website. Even I only found it because I phoned someone at the council and asked about it!

Additionally both the online consultation and the consultation being handed out at the council’s reception do not given the option to offer any comment. They simply ask whether the high rate should be maintained for one year or two although there is an email address where other comments can be sent to, but again this email address is not on either the online form nor on the printed version.

If like me you would like to agree to neither option, but instead ask for the rate to be more in keeping with what other councils offer, please do not answer the simple two answer question offered by the official consultation. Instead email any comments you have directly to, and if you wish to you can copy me into the email I will then try to make sure your comments are presented to the Executive Committee when they meet to make their final decision. If they are not then I will happily take a selection to the meeting to read out to them if they let me.

It seems to me that this is another sham consultation and another example of KBC failing to engage with its local residents properly.

The survey can be seen here if you wish to see it:

Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.

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