MY COUNCIL TAX LIABILITY ORDER HEARING IS IN THE MAGISTRATES COURT, LORDSHIP LANE, TOTTENHAM N17 6RT,  2ND AUGUST, 9.30 am.

18 July 2013

MY COUNCIL TAX LIABILITY ORDER HEARING IS IN THE MAGISTRATES COURT, LORDSHIP LANE, TOTTENHAM N17 6RT ON THE 2ND AUGUST 2013 at 9.30 am.

I will attend the court and make a short statement giving my reasons for refusing to pay if I am allowed to by the Magistrates.

The Magistrates will issue a Liability Order. For that £125 has been added to the £891 arrears. The next stage beyond that could be the a visit from bailiffs who are not allowed to break in to peoples homes to enforce council tax; but they are for fines. I will tell them I will keep the door closed so they need not visit.

The final stage is a committal hearing where those who refuse to pay can be sent to prison. I am ready for that.

Civil Disobedience is morally defensible when the laws it highlights are morally indefensible.

The present laws which impose caps, cuts and council tax on the poorest citizens of the UK, are creating households debts, mental and physical illness and damaging children's education. They are morally indefensible.

A one size fits all moral judgement is repeated ad nauseam by Cabinet Ministers from the Prime Minister down "it is unfair on the taxpayer".

As a citizen who pays income tax, VAT and the excise duty on my evening glass of wine; and who normally pays council tax, I steam with indignation as a taxpayer each time I am used by ministers to justify such draconian measures making the poorest people poorer still.

That is a very shallow moral judgement. It results in the poorest citizens of the UK being thrust by law into unmanageable debt by caps and cuts in housing benefit, possible eviction, forced migration to anywhere in the UK and undue stress and misery.

The cumulative impacts of the cuts, caps and council tax, while prices escalate, is extreme and disproportionate.

There is enough wealth in the UK, and parked in overseas tax havens, to ensure sufficient incomes are provided by the State and employers to buy the minimum quantities food, utilities, clothes and transport and other necessities.

However a chaotic free market in housing is requiring an ever increasing proportion of low to middle incomes, in work or unemployed, to be used to pay rent or buy a home.

The housing market is driving a coach and horses through the already limited viability of benefits, the universal credit, the national minimum wage and the living wage.

A principle reason for this misery is the absence of a policy for affordable housing. Successive governments since the 1980s allowed rents to escalate, which increased housing benefit to £22 billion a year. They also allowed anyone in the world to buy homes in the UK, and leave them empty; thus pushing up rents and prices in a UK housing market in short supply.

Housing benefit was a cash cow for landlords, but the poorest tenants are punished to reduce the deficit.

Haringey Council has added to the misery by taxing benefits with 20% of the council tax. Those benefits have already been capped and cut by the coalition while the prices of food and fuel escalate..

Haringey could have kept 100% council tax benefit if they had increased council tax by an average of 86 pence a week or £45 a year. It could have been done by a 1.5% increase to avoid the referendum required by the coalition if it is increased by 2% or over and by taking the balance out of reserves.

I will pay my council tax if that is done for 2014/15.

There are 740 households in Haringey who are being hit by the £500 overall benefit cap. They will have to cover both with an average of £118 and a maximum of £190.97 a week out of the money needed for food, utilities, transport to work, clothes etc (council figures) that they did not have to find last year and, for 1000s of them, the addition of £145 for the liability order.

Others have been hit by the bedroom tax, the housing benefit cap; sometimes more than one at a time.

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty


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