Council could make Northampton's working poor pay six per cent more tax each year

Northampton Borough Council is looking to reduce the amount of support the town's working poor receive for their council tax bills.
Northampton Borough Council is looking to reduce the amount of support the town's working poor receive for their council tax bills.
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A special council meeting in Northampton is set to look at reducing the amount of help to around 10,000 of Northampton's lowest earners receive for the second year running - even though two thirds of respondents opposed the changes.

Northampton Borough Council is due to convene for an "extraordinary" meeting next Monday, January, 30, to discuss an amendment to the authority's council tax reduction scheme.

Whereas the council's lowest earners currently pay 29 per cent of their tax bill, the council is proposing to raise that to 35 per cent.

It would be the second year in a row the amount has been raised.

Councillor Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for finance, said: “The funding that supports the council tax reduction scheme is diminishing each year, so as a council we have to consider the best way to provide ongoing support for as many people as possible.

“We held a public consultation to ask people for their views on our proposals and we listened to what they had to say. As a result, our final recommendation is two per cent lower than the figure we consulted on.

“While we recognise that the change will affect many people, our recommendation will enable us to support more people in the long-term.”

But the proposal is almost certain to receive a hostile reception from opposition members at the special Guildhall meeting.

Leader of the Labour group, Councillor Danielle Stone, said: "I am shocked that the Tory controlled Borough Council are harming the working poor in our town yet again.

"Cutting council tax relief for the poorest will cause more hardship. The amount of council tax the poorest people will pay is going to increase yet again. I am very much opposed to this.”

The council did consult on proposals to require the lowest earners to pay 37 per cent of their tax bill last year.

Negative responses included concerns about being able to afford increasing bills amid static incomes.

In the consultation, the council claimed it would need to raise £252,000 "from other sources" if it were not to implement the reduction in support.

But two-thirds of respondents said they did not support the reduction.

Those in a band D property would see their bill rise by around £2.30 a week under the new measures.

But five of the 34 who filled out the questionnaire said they were struggling to pay their current bill and this option would increase further hardship

The special meeting is set to take place in the main hall of the Guildhall at 6.30pm on Monday, January 30.