“Haringey Council will stop imposing council tax on families with children claiming working aged benefits from April 2019. A small but vital start to reversing the ravages of austerity”. 

13 August 2018

 Taxpayers Against Poverty (TAP) has been campaigning against the taxation by local government of benefit incomes shredded by the DWP since 2012 

“Haringey Council will decide to stop imposing council tax on families with children claiming working aged benefits from April 2019; a small but vital start to reversing the ravages of austerity” at their Cabinet meeting on the 14th August. You can watch the meeting which starts at 6.30

Statement of the Rev Paul Nicolson at the Cabinet meeting on the 14th August for a deputation of Tottenham residents. 

Haringey Council is at last about to start implementing a humane council tax policy. But putting the policy fully into practice has to wait another year. About 6000 Families with children claiming working aged benefits will be immensely relieved not to get a council tax bill in April 2019, but many will still have council tax arrears. The incomes of about 4000 working aged adults in the borough claiming benefits will continue to be taxed by the council in 2019/20. I am assuming they will be spared from April 2020. 

This is a small but vital start to reversing the ravages of austerity. It will be used by campaigners and campaigning organisations as an example to other councils of what can and ought be done. I ask you to understand that I will have to continue to campaign against the council tax – there are 289 out of 326 councils in England yet to be persuaded. 

The level of the outgoing single-adult Jobseekers Allowance is currently £73.10 a week. It equates to the incoming Universal Credit  (UC) of £317 a month.  It has been losing value since 1979 and has been frozen since 2011. It is not a viable income. It is not enough to pay for a healthy diet, water, fuel, clothes and transport or other necessities. Before April 2013 it was supported by 100% council tax and housing benefits. 
Since April 2013 UC has been paying a proportion of rent and council tax plus enforcement costs. It is stopped for one or three months with a benefit sanction by the Jobcenters with as little care and attention to the circumstances of the claimants as when the councils send out the bailiffs to collect council tax arrears - from a UC claimant with no income.
It is at that point we see how the benefit system has crashed.  
In 2013/14 the council sent out the bailiffs 12,484 times  (FOI LBH/2959014) adding to the arrears, (a) £125 court costs a time payable to the council, and then (b) £75 a time payable to the bailiffs. A total of £200 a time added to the arrears which added a total of £2.5 million to the cost of council tax to Haringey Residents. The Treasury Select Committee of MPs report “Household finances: income, saving and debt” published on the 26th July states ”… that people become over-indebted through arrears on bills, including those owed to central and local government, such as council tax; (PN emphasis) public authorities often pursue debts over-zealously, uncompromisingly, and with routine recourse to bailiffs, which risks driving the most financially vulnerable people into further difficulty”. 
Those are the reasons I am asking the Cabinet to institute a thorough overhaul of council tax enforcement and for the sake of health and wellbeing of the families claiming benefits, who will not be taxed from April 2019, but will be in arrears, and the adults claiming benefits, who will be taxed until April 2020 and will inevitably be in arrears; and indeed for all Haringey residents who have the misfortune to fall into arrears of council tax.   
Rev Paul Nicolson, 
Taxpayers Against Poverty