It is time for 269 councils in England to stop taxing working age benefit incomes cut by central government

4 November 2017

It is time for 289 councils in England to stop taxing working age benefit incomes shredded by central government. 

NB There are 326 councils in England 37 have not taxed benefits by keepng the 100% CTB which leaves 289 taxing benefits. see New Policy Institute http://www.counciltaxsupport.org/schemes/, My mistake was to write "England & Wales" which I have now corrected

It is beyond doubt that debts enforced against low incomes, or NO income, impact on health; the government's benefit policy now provides NO income for weeks , sometimes months, on end, while the local authorities send in the bailiffs, with devastating impacts on mental and physical health. 

The proof  that the benefit system is not viable from the point of view of the poorest UK citizens is completed by their experience of NO income due to benefit sanction, universal credit and zero hours contracts creating long term penury. The three penalties can overlap or follow each other;  meanwhile the debts, rent and council tax arrears pile up while they have NO income and have to be paid off  for months/years after the DWP's  shredded benefit incomnes start to be paid again.

DWP has shredded the benefit system by £18 billion since April 2011 and intends to shred another £12 billion up to 2020. 

The Supreme Court observed in 2014. 

"Those whom Haringey was primarily consulting (about the taxation of working aged benefits) were the most economically disadvantaged of its residents. Their income was already at a basic level and the effect of Haringey’s proposed scheme would be to reduce it even below that level and thus in all likelihood to cause real hardship, while sparing its more prosperous residents from making any contribution to the shortfall in government funding. Fairness demanded that in the consultation document brief reference should be made to other ways of absorbing the shortfall and to the reasons why (unlike 58% of local authorities in England: see para 15 above) Haringey had concluded that they were unacceptable. The protest of The Rev. Nicolson in his letter dated 10 December 2012 was well-directed." Mosely v Haringey

Last year The Magistrates Courts in England & Wales issued about 3.5 million liability orders against late and non payers of council tax allowing councils to send in the bailiffs. The rolling out of the Universal Credit is expected significantly to increase that number. 

Events in The London Borough of Haringey mirror the oppression in all 289 councils. 

Haringey decided in 2012 to tax working age benefit incomes from April 2013. Every year since then Councillors in Haringey have been told that low income and debt impact on health; we now have to add "NO income and debt very severely impact on health". In particular they impact on maternal nutrition leading to Low birthweight. In Northumberland Park, the most deprived ward in Haringey, There low birthweight is now nearly 11%. It was over 12% in 2012 or 38 babies when one is too many. These are third world levels leading to life time mental and physical ill health. Rather than address this scandal Haringey has fixed up with an International Developer called Lend Lease to demolish their homes. 

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request ref: LBH/1915613

The table below details the proportion and numbers of low birth weight babies by ward from 2009-2012.

Ward

2009

2010

2011

2012

 

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Alexandra

7

4.7%

5

2.5%

13

7.8%

14

8.6%

Bounds Green

11

5.0%

10

3.9%

21

8.6%

13

6.3%

Bruce Grove

21

5.8%

33

10.1%

24

8.8%

23

7.8%

Crouch End

12

6.1%

12

5.7%

9

4.0%

13

6.7%

Fortis Green

13

9.1%

16

9.8%

9

5.9%

10

6.3%

Harringay

22

10.0%

11

5.0%

22

9.1%

9

3.9%

Highgate

8

5.6%

12

7.7%

7

4.7%

8

5.8%

Hornsey

17

8.0%

16

8.4%

15

7.3%

9

4.3%

Muswell Hill

11

7.0%

10

5.9%

7

4.1%

7

5.5%

Noel Park

18

9.4%

23

10.2%

20

8.6%

7

3.2%

Northumberland

31

11.6%

30

9.6%

26

8.3%

38

12.1%

Seven Sisters

24

7.9%

22

8.0%

25

9.4%

23

9.7%

St. Ann's

23

6.9%

21

5.4%

21

6.4%

21

5.8%

Stroud Green

11

6.6%

6

3.6%

7

5.1%

8

5.6%

Tottenham Green

39

14.4%

17

6.0%

22

8.4%

22

6.5%

Tottenham Hale

22

8.7%

19

6.4%

25

8.8%

15

4.8%

West Green

20

9.4%

18

8.5%

18

8.3%

13

5.5%

White Hart Lane

18

8.2%

11

4.5%

14

6.5%

23

9.5%

Woodside

18

6.6%

14

5.6%

23

9.1%

9

4.1%

Haringey

346

8.1%

306

6.8%

328

7.6%

285

6.5%

When unemployment benefits began in 1912 they were 22% of average male earnings at seven shillings a week. Now at £73.10 JSA a week it is less than 10% of average earnings; it has not been increased by the DWP snce 2015. It does do not increase when it moves into universal credit; it then is equal to £317 a month. 

That is the crumbling corner stone of the benefit system on top of which all other benefits are built.
 
Councillors were warned in 2012 by officials that the local housing allowance, the overall housing benefit would cut housing benefit simultaneously with any cut in council tax benefit.  That would require both rent and council tax to be paid by JSA and Children' benefits intended for food, water, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities. Haringey officials left out the bedroom tax, which had the same devastating impact on JSA. 
 
Despite the powerful warnings about the impact on the health of the poorest residents from officials Haringey Councillors decided to cut council tax benefit to 80% from 2013 leaving 20% of the tax, or from £2 - £7 a week, to be paid by a diminishing and totally inadequate £73.10 a week/£317 a month UC now also paying rent from April 2013. 
 
The number of summons issued by the council against late and non payers in 2016/17 was 21,881,and 11492 cases were referred to enforcement agents during 2016/17, which includes liability orders obtained from previous years.
 
Those figures ought to be used by the council to set the level of court costs in 2017/18. The cost of that  enforcement charged to late and non payers doubles the impact of local taxation on shredded national benefits. 
 
Since then in;
 
2014 Haringey's 2012 consultation has been found unlawful by the Supreme Court
 
2015 Haringey's refusal, with the Tottenahsm Magistrates, to release a breakdown of Haringeys' summons and liability order costs was found unlawful by the High Court. 
 
2016 Haringey's external auditor forced the council to reduce the summons and liability order costs which had been overcharged. 
 
2017 Haringey was told the Magistrates 2017/18  court costs were incorrect. The council's representative was briefed to tell the magistrates they correct. The costs are currently in the hands of the External Auditor he has meanwhile confirmed. "it has come to light that the information that you were provided with regarding the number of summonses issued in 2016/17 was incorrect.  It is correct that the number issued in 2015/16 was 19,855 but the number issued in 2016/17 was 21,881. The figure previously provided to you as 27,270 included joint-payers rather than the number of summonses and the 2015/16 and 2016/17 were not provided on the same basis." 
 
It is obviously a serious matter that Highbury Corner Magistrates have been misled by Haringey Council. 

These are the costs which double the tax for the poorest working age benefit claimants who cannot pay the tax and add to the damage to health.

Bailiffs are always keen to collect their fees because they are private companies making a profit from late and non payers of council tax.  

Court costs - £115 - Decided by each council.  

Bailffs fees - admin - £75. All bailiffs fees are decided by the Ministry of Justice. 
Bailiffs - visits to defaulters -  £235
Balliffs - truck to collect good for sale - £110

Total  £535 

 
Haringey fails to collect at least £2 million a year (Haringey FOI -  LBH/6186417)
 
     The amount of unpaid council tax year end;
 

     2010/11    £3,931,473.89

     2011/12    £3,329,359.99

     2012/13    £2,965,734.90

     2013/14    £3,626,455.71

     2014/15    £3,868,138.05

     2015/16    £3,614,643.13

     2016/17    £2,292,666.89

The London Borough of Camden decided not to waste time and money trying to collect the tax from people who cannot pay. Councillors have therefore stopped taxing working aged benefit incomes. 

 

 

This is the kind of pressure Newlyn's bailiffs apply against impoverished households at the request of Haringey Council enforcing council tax arrears,

This is a string of texts from the bailiffs to a mobile phone of one household.

25th September 15.32
ENFORCEMENT AGENT due to attend & take control of GOODS. Call NEWLYN on 07421324529 to STOP

9th October 2017 16.51 
You IGNORED our Removal Notice the REMOVAL UNIT is operating in N17 0AX. Call NEWLYN NOW on 01604633001 to arrange. Ref: 3756142

9th October 2017 19.57 
You failed to respond. REMOVAL TRUCK BOOKED as per COURT ORDER to TAKE CONTROL OF GOODS to AVOID ACTION CALL NEWLYN 01604 633001 QUOTING REF: 3756142

11th October 
You failed to respond. REMOVAL TRUCK BOOKED as per COURT ORDER to TAKE CONTROL OF GOODS to AVOID ACTION CALL NEWLYN 01604 633001 QUOTING REF: 3756142

12OCTOBER 20.26 
OPERATING IN N17 0AX . FINAL WARNING. NEWLYN ENFORCEMENT AGENT ATTENDING WITHIN 48 HOURS TO REMOVE GOODS. CALL 01604633001 IMMEDIATELY. REF: 3756142

16th October 12.08
REMOVAL TRUCK BOOKED TODAY AT 4PM as per COURT ORDER to TAKE CONTROL OF GOODS, to AVOID ACTION CALL 07813532450 Quoting REF 3756142

16th October 16,27 
RETURN HOME NOW! Newlyn removal truck en route to REMOVE YOUR GOODS. Call MR THOMAS NOW on 07813532450 quoting ref 3756142 to avoid this. 3756142

18 OCTOBER 11.59 
NEWLYN REMOVAL TEAM ARE DUE TO ATTEND TODAY TO TAKE CONTROL OF GOODS, TO AVOID ACTION CALL 07813532450 QUOTING REF $(ROWID) 3756142

19 October 11.56 
REMOVAL TRUCK RE-SCHEDULED TO ATTEND IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS, CALL MR THOMAS 07813532450 TO PREVENT REMOVAL OF GOODS AS PER COURT ORDER QUOTING REF 3756142

19 October 16,27 
RETURN HOME NOW! Newlyn removal truck en route to REMOVE YOUR GOODS. Call MR THOMAS NOW on 07813532450 quoting ref 3756142 to avoid this. 3756142

23rd October 20.24
You failed to respond. REMOVAL TRUCK BOOKED as per COURT ORDER to TAKE CONTROL OF GOODS to AVOID ACTION CALL NEWLYN 01604 633001 QUOTING REF: 3756142

 

 

 

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