Following Harlow would lead to paying less Council Tax for us all in Kent
The average Council tax across all 12 Kent districts is £2,043. What with a cost of living crisis unfolding before our very eyes; which will get worse in 2023, how would you like a one of reduction on your council tax in the financial year 2023/24?
If that’s a resounding yes from you, this is really doable, if the political will of all twelve councils in Kent is there, and pressure from you. There is a precedent to lower Council Tax, and that precedent was set by Tory led Harlow Council, whose residents welcomed their one of £50 reduction.
This is also doable at Town & Parish level, but to a smaller amount of say £20 max.
Such a reduction would take us back to £1,973 on average.
Your council could quite easily follow Harlow’s example given they know a tsunami of household costs are, and will, affect every household in Kent and beyond. They don’t have to sit around waiting for the next Prime Minister to tell them what to do, they can act now on this issue. Pressure from you would help as well.
£70 isn’t a lot, its £7 a month, but every little sum of money not coming out of a household budget helps. It may mean the difference between eating something or nothing for many. If you want such a reduction you can do this by writing to your local Cllrs and Chief Execs of your Council. All 12 Councils have the reserves to make this a reality. Plus it would be a wise and prudent thing to do politically, as ten of the councils will be having local elections in May 2023, and many Cllrs do want to be re-elected.
Council tax is usually set in Jan/Feb of each year. So now is the time to start putting on the pressure as Council’s will begin to work on their next year budget from now.
Nearly 70% of Kent County Council’s income comes from Council Tax. Each month all of the twelve districts within Kent send money to KCC. Over the year this amounts to significant sums as one can see from the chart below
Now what this chart does not show is the anomalies on who has the highest council tax rate for a Band D – as that is what is used to calculate Council Tax. The award for the highest council tax using Band D is Folkestone & Hythe District, who have had the highest council tax for the last nineteen years in a row. Sevenoaks come in second, followed by Maidstone, as can be seen from the chart below.
All Councillors contact details can be found on each councils website.
Council tax along with the other increases will affect every household, working, retired and low income. If you were already spending nearly all your income on essentials, where do you cut back to manage when the prices go up? For many people the result will be deepening poverty.
In the two financial years 2016/17 and 2018/19, it’s known that all twelve Council’s used bailiffs to collect Council Tax debt which is a priority debt, on 77,937 occasions. This is the latest data available.
Stricter council tax collection policies, higher council tax collection rates and using bailiffs will only drive more people into debt and potentially homelessness; which is the responsibility of your local Council.
So asking your District/Borough Cllrs to consider a one off £50 reduction and your town and parish Cllrs to consider a one of £20 reduction, will help everyone, rich and poor alike. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and they need your vote, whoever you vote for.
For those who are finding themselves in difficulty with their council tax already, there is help and advice out there. So where to turn –
Section 13A (1c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 allows local authorities to, in exceptional circumstances, reduce the Council Tax liability for a charge payer. Statutory exemptions and discounts must first have been exhausted. If you find yourself in this position then apply, if you don’t try, you won’t know.
Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital source of support when people face an unexpected expense such as a broken washing machine, cooker, bed, and here in Kent we have Kent Support and Assistance Service (KSAS), who may be able to help you if you are having serious difficulties managing your income due to a crisis, or if you are facing exceptional pressures because of an emergency.
Most Council’s offer financial support for their residents similar to the one offered by Folkestone & Hythe District Council. Research has shown that accessing the right benefits can be the thing that prevents someone from experiencing destitution.
Then there is:
Citizen Advice Bureau
National Debt Line
Much of the power to protect the retired, low income and working in our county from the cost of living crisis, lies in the hands of the next Prime Minister. Lets hope whoever that may be, they’ll act as soon as possible after 8th Sept.
Meanwhile, you too can play a part in cutting your Council tax by a one off £50 at district level and up to £20 at Town & Parish level. Get writing to your Cllrs to make this doable.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime
I agree that this would be welcomed by all tax payers, but one has to ask the question as to whether the council will continue to provide the same level of service as currently, or whether they would use this as a pretext for cutting some services e.g. less frequent bin collection or less money for parks and gardens. The council, whatever one thinks of them, will be facing increasing costs in the year ahead including paying their staff more, cost of heating council buildings etc.
Been no noticeable or reported differences in Harlow’s services.