There are no Paradise Papers from Haringey. No tax free islands in Tottenham.

21 November 2017

Letter published by The Guardian on the 21st November 2017

Re the letter from Joseph Stiglitz and others (The chancellor must end austerity now, 20 November), the chancellor should also note that controlled rage is the only rational response to the Paradise Papers’ revelations that billions of pounds are shipped out of the UK tax free to tax havens at the same time that councils are enforcing council tax arrears, plus court costs and bailiff fees, against the lowest UK incomes. That happens on top of rent arrears, the dire increases in the cost of living and family and individual insolvency. For weeks, sometimes months, those households have no income to pay the tax due to the benefits sanction, zero-hours contracts and universal credit. Their housing benefit has been cut by the overall benefit cap, by the bedroom tax and by the local housing allowance, while rents increase. The council tax enforcement army takes no prisoners, while the elite enjoy the unearned and untaxed huge increase in the value of their UK land, their tax-free yachts and their private aircraft.

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

Statement by Reverend Paul Nicolson to the Haringey Council Review and Scrutiny Committee on behalf of a Council Tax deputation on the 21st November 2017.

There are no Paradise Papers from Haringey. No tax free islands in Tottenham.

May I remind you about the impact of low income on health as described by the Institute of Health Equity.

 “Income can impact on health in different ways.  Income impacts on health directly, for instance, because of insufficient money to heat your home or buy a healthy balanced diet. Cold homes increase rates of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, excess winter deaths and mental illness.  Inadequate diets increase the risk of malnutrition, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  

Low income, and particularly debt or insufficient income also impact on health indirectly through increased stress, depression and anxiety, and sub optimal coping behaviours – such as increased rates of smoking and drinking”.

Haringey Council is a leading power in a colossal UK injustice.

For the 7 million landless tenants the housing crisis is now and worsening. There is no equity to fall back on. No escape from council tax, income tax or VAT. There are no council tax Paradise papers from Haringey. No tax free islands in Tottenham. Since April 2013 council tax has been charged at 8.5% to 30% against state benefit incomes by 264 councils out of 326 in England; you charge 20% and add court costs and bailiffs fees to the arrears of up to £420 which cannot be paid out of a single adult unemployment benefit of £73.10 a week. It has also been required to pay rent since April 2013 because government has cut housing benefit. 

£73.10 a week remains the wobbly bottom building brick of the Universal Credit paid to 4 million people in the UK 27,000 of whom were taxed by Haringey last year. It equals £317 a month Universal Credit. All other benefits are added to it. It equals   It does not reach Joseph Rowntree minimum income standards for food, fuel, clothes, transport of £91.80 per week, and cannot afford​ the​ rent and ​council tax it has been expected to pay since ​April 2013. 

It has been diminishing in value since 1979. It has not been increased since April 2015. It is so low that debt is inevitable. It is the income the disabled are left with if they fail the Work Capability Assessment. It is stopped by a benefit sanction, zero hours contract or the Universal Credit for weeks sometimes months. By taxing it and enforcing the tax against it the council is damaging mental and physical health adding to the risk of low birthweight and shortening lives.