The poorest people in Northampton will have to pay almost 40 cent more council tax to the borough council if proposals by councillors go ahead.
Although Northampton Borough Council has proposed its share of council tax rates stay the same next year, those who are so poor they get tax relief will find themselves paying more as that level of reduction changes.
Where the least well-off had to pay 21 per cent of the full amount this year, that is set to rise to 29 per cent next year (in effect, a 38 per cent increase on what they have been paying).
Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said: “This means bills for the poorest people in our town are going to increase while there is a tax freeze for the many.
“That will be a disaster for people having to choose between eating and heating or between paying 29 per cent of their council tax or buying shoes for the children.
“Hitting the poorest hardest is not the way to balance the budget.”
Northampton Labour Group is calling for a freeze of the council tax reduction scheme (which used to be called council tax benefit) for the next two years.
But it is also suggesting an increase in the general council tax, which has remained static in Northampton since 2011, to the referendum limit, with the aim of helping address the local authority’s deficit.
They admit the bill would still rise for the poorest, but by a more modest percentage than they have been subject to in past years.
Councillor Stone said: “We need to be honest with people about the implications of freezing council tax for the sixth year in a row.
“A year-on-year freeze has serious implications as it has eroded the council tax base. Six years of inflation also eats away at the base budget.
“A modest increase in council tax will mean no cuts to services.
“After a five-year freeze, it is time to make the difficult decision to increase council tax, but the extra income will be used to freeze the council tax reduction scheme.”
NOTE: A previous version of this article said the difference in proposed tax relief would be eight per cent. It has been pointed out that the difference would in fact be 38 per cent. We have amended the article accordingly.