London Borough of Haringey made financial decisions without regard to their impact on the health of the residents of the borough in particular the impact on health of their most deprived residents

8 July 2018
OBJECTION TO HARINGEY'S 2017/18 ACCOUNTS. 
 
The NAO "Local Authority Accounts - Guide to your rights" states that  "An unlawful item of account is one that for example records spending or income that the authorities spent on something that it had the power spend on but the decision to spend the money was wholly unreasonable or irrational" In other words Wednesbury unreasonable.  The NAO also states that I can object to the accounts if there are matters of wider concern arising from the authorities finances. 
 
It is a matter of wider concern arising from the authorities finances that the London Borough of Haringey has made financial decisions without regard to their impact on the health of the residents of the borough in particular without regard to their impact on the health of the most deprived residents. In 2017/18 the authority made no assessment of the impact on the health of council tenants and leaseholders of demolishing their homes and destroying the community in the most deprived ward of the borough in order to help raise £2bn from council land.  
 
The evidence can be found in;
  1. The council leaders letter published by the Guardian
  2. Haringey's 2017/18 accounts 
  3. Haringey's Tenancy Agreement
  4. Nine blogs by health professionals on poverty related ill health on our website. 
  5. My statement to Haringey Cabinet on behalf of a deputation of residents on the 14th November 2017. (below).  

Throughout 2017/18 the Council's policy was to use the inflated value of council land on which about 15,400  council tenants and leaseholders live to provide homes by demolishing homes. The primacy of land in the thoughts of the Cabinet was spelled out in a letter from the Leader of the Council published by The Guardian on the 20th January 2017.  

"The London housing market has failed. I’m not going to accept that either. So, if a council wants to tackle these threats and take control of its own destiny, what does it do? It takes the one asset it has left – its land. Land which can provide the homes people need, and long-term income to keep council services afloat".

Haringey Cabinet had decided to raise the £2bn, as recorded in the 2017/18 accounts, from the value of the council land after demolishing  the homes of about council tenants and leaseholders. 

Progressing such a financial decision in 2017/18 in Northumberland Park without considering the impact on the health of the council tenants and leaseholders in the most deprived ward of the borough was is a matter of concern arising from the authorities finances and/or so wholly unreasonable that no reasonable council would continue with such a policy. 

Haringey Revenue Account 2017/18. 

"2017/18 was the third year into the rolling 10-year capital plan The ambitious strategy for growth and regeneration will invest almost £2bn over the period to deliver a range of improved outcomes for residents." 

The council failed to take into account the following relevant evidence.

  1. The impact on the health of the most deprived households in the borough with a life expectancy of seven years shorter than in the West of the borough and a 10-12% incidence of low birthweight, at third world levels, according to Professor Michael Crawford of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition. 
  2. That Northumberland Park was among 5% of the most deprived wards in England according to the 2011 census.  The poor health of deprived residents is mostly due to low income, high rents, hunger and inevitable debt. See the evidence of health professionals on our website.   
  3. That deprived people are mostly receiving benefit incomes which have been reduced nationally by £18bn with another £12bn to come. That has already damaged the health of low income households.  
  4. That benefit incomes reduced by national government have been taxed by the council since 2013. The tax is enforced with the addition of court costs and bailiffs fees creating ill health related to low income and debt.  The wider concerns about the impact on health of the authorities finances were raised in my statement to Haringey Cabinet on behalf of a deputation of residents on the 14th November 2017.  (attached)
  5. That there is a housing crisis in London so moving vulnerable households out of council estates into temporary accommodation, which is very difficult to find because of the lack of supply and will continue to be difficult over the next ten years, would damage the health of pensioners, individuals, and families with young children. 
  6. That demolishing the homes of deprived people merely moves them and their deprivation out of Northumberland Park and even out of the Borough. That is irrational because such insecurity worsens rather than improves their health.  

HARINGEY CABINET MEETING 

Tuesday, 14th November, 2017, 6.30 pm - Civic Centre, High Road, Wood Green, N22 8LE Members: Councillors Claire Kober (Chair), Peray Ahmet, Jason Arthur, Eugene Ayisi, Ali Demirci, Joe Goldberg, Alan Strickland, Bernice Vanier, Elin Weston and Joseph Ejiofor.
 

Statement of the Reverend Paul Nicolson on behalf of the council tax deputation opposing the proposed decision of the Cabinet to continue taxing benefit incomes in 2018/19.

 
Your imposition of council tax, on top of cuts and caps to social security incomes imposed by central government, is a violent act. It contributes to low birthweight, shortened lives, mental and physical ill health among your many impoverished constituents. You know very well that for weeks, sometimes months some households have no income to pay the tax due to the benefits sanction, the zero hours contract and universal credit. You also know that the housing benefit has been cut by the overall benefit cap, by the bedroom tax and by the local housing allowance.  You are piling  council tax arrears  on top of the rent arrears created by Parliament.  
 
Last year 27,947 Haringey residents received council tax benefit, owing £6.9 million from whom £1.1 million was not collected.  Despite knowing the misery caused by the enforcement of both rent and council tax you took 21,000 late and non-payers of council tax to court and sent the bailiffs in 11, 000 times. That adds court costs and bailiffs fees, which double the council tax arrears.  You hand the mobile phone numbers of your constituents to Newlyns the bailiffs, who run campaigns of intimidation against vulnerable people by sending threatening text messages in the morning and around  8 in the evening.  
 
Time and again since 2012 you have been shown the scientific evidence that debt, low incomes and inability to buy a healthy diet create mental and physical health problems.  Three days food from a food bank does not cover a nine month pregnancy. You ignore the fact that some of the wards in Haringey are among the most deprived in the United Kingdom. Low birth weight is at third world levels of 10-12%. In those wards some there are 20 to 40 tiny babies born every a year with a high risk of lifetime and intergenerational ill health because their mothers could not buy a healthy diet before or during  pregnancy. Not satisfied with taxing their shredded social security you also want to demolish their homes. You are abusing your power. 
 
I implore you, I beg you, if you have any respect whatever for the tenets at the heart of all the major faith's, so wonderfully represented in the borough, to love your neighbour as yourself,  you will cease the cruel taxation of the shredded social security incomes of the oppressed people of Haringey.

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