Drop in tax support for more than 10,000 of Northampton's working poor could be 'the straw that breaks the camel's back'

Chief executive of Northampton's Citizen's Advice Bureau, Martin Lord, believes a reduction in tax support for the working poor could push some towards debt trouble.
Chief executive of Northampton's Citizen's Advice Bureau, Martin Lord, believes a reduction in tax support for the working poor could push some towards debt trouble.

The boss of an advice service for Northampton residents believes a planned drop in tax support for the town's working poor, could tip some towards debt trouble.

Northampton Borough Council is due to convene for an "extraordinary" meeting on Monday (January, 30) to discuss an amendment to its council tax reduction scheme.

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

But chief executive of Northampton's Citizen's Advice Bureau Martin Lord believes even the predicted £2.30 weekly rise could have a big effect on those "just getting by."

He said: "What we know is that people who are just about managing are actual very resourceful and well organised on a small income.

"It only takes a small deterioration for them to be tipped over the edge.

"The one extra increase could be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

If the reduction is approved on Monday night, it will mark the second year in a row the council has reduced the support scheme.

Nationally, Mr Lorrd said the CAB has seen a drop in the number of people visiting its website for council tax advice, compared with last year.

But it has seen a recent spike in those looking for information about what to do in the event of "bailiff action."

Mr Lord believes this could be a worrying sign that more are getting into serious debt.

"We know that in the wider sense council tax problems aren't going away," he said.

"The indication from the websites is that council tax is going to be an increasing problem."

The vote on the council tax reduction scheme will take place in the main hall of the Guildhall at 6.30pm on Monday.

Councillor Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for finance on the council, 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.”