OPEN LETTER TO COUNCILLOR CLAIRE KOBER LEADER OF HARINGEY COUNCIL FROM TAX PAYERS AGAINST POVERTY

10 December 2012

To the Leader, Haringey Council

Dear Councillor Clare Kober.

FAILURE ACCURATELY TO STATE THE IMPACT ON THE POOREST HARINGEY RESIDENTS OF THE COALITION'S CAPS & CUTS AND HARINGEY'S COUNCIL TAX.

I am a resident of the Borough of Haringey living in Tottenham, N17. This is an open letter to you as leader of Haringey Council about Appendix C of the Report of the Cabinet Meeting of 10/07/12  and the December edition of Haringey People just published. The first is misleading, the second is a smoke-screen hiding the cruelty of the impact of the coalition's & cuts and the council's council tax on Haringey's poorest citizens from April 2013.

I was once an Independent Councillor elected for the Kimpton Ward of the North Herts District Council defeating both labour and conservative candidates in 1979. I still owe no allegiance to any political party in 2012. The following letter to The Times published last Friday 7th December sets out my personal position about the financial crisis and that of Taxpayers Against Poverty.

GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION FAILING THEIR POOREST FELLOW CITIZENS

Sir, Both the coalition Government and the Opposition are failing
their poorest fellow citizens in two ways. They are allowing the myth
to continue that the 2.5 million unemployed people in the UK are
scroungers living the life of Riley, while dependent on generous
benefits supplied by the taxpayer. But the vast majority long for work
and do not need to be coerced by destitution to apply for a job.
Second, the political parties are not explaining the arithmetic of
poverty.

An unemployed couple with two children has benefits of £258 a week to
cover food, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities. When the
housing benefit is capped then the unpaid rent has to come out of that
£258, for both the short-term and long-term unemployed. Add the
overall benefit cap and 20 per cent of the council tax from 2013 and
the cumulative effect can be a reduction of up to £108 a week or
higher, depending on the rent, for many such families.

Freezing their annual increase at 1 per cent a year for three years,
while the prices of food and fuel escalate, increases the risks of
unmanageable debts and adds to the existing damage a poverty income
does to the health of the families and the education of their
children.

The Rev Paul Nicolson
London N17

Haringey Council fails the same way.

None of the political parties in Haringey are publicly explaining to their electorate the the arithmetic of the, caps cuts and council tax. Your Appendix C is a classic example of that failure in the following ways.

  • Appendix C is misleading
  • The council's proposals will create unmanageable debts and ill health among the poorest residents.
  • Low birth weight, which is related to poor maternal nutrition, in Haringey is among the worst in Europe now and will become worse as a result of Haringey's tax and the coalition's caps and cuts.
  • I am shocked that no alternative to hitting the fragile incomes of the poorest residents of Haringey with council tax was included in the council's recent consultation.

Appendix C is misleading. It states that the income of the nine families who will have to pay the average of £108 a week due to the cumulative impact of the OBC, the LHA (the benefit caps) and the CTB (the council tax) is £580. That is misleading. It is the £258 JSA/IS and children's benefits available for food, fuel, transport and other necessities which will have to pay the cumulative costs of the benefit caps and the tax of an average of £108 a week up to the maximum of £313 a week. The families will not be able to cope. The same error occurs in every example given for the 13,891 cases illustrated in Appendix C, 4747 of whom are employed. See Minutes of Cabinet 10/7/12 Haringey Council Cabinet minutes Appendix C. http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=26910

The council's proposals will create unmanageable debts and ill health among the poorest residents. Unmanageable council tax arrears are inevitable, when poverty incomes are capped, cut then taxed. The councils then add around £70 for a liability order from the Magistrates Courts and the bailiffs up to a further £400 so creating unmanageable debts. The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Government Office for Science have persistently drawn attention to the relationship between debt and mental health problems. 50% of people in debt have mental health problems and 25% of people with a diagnosed mental health illness are in debt. See; http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/migratedD/ec_group/116-08-FO_b and http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/

Low birth weight in Haringey, which is related to poor maternal nutrition, is among the worst in Europe now and will become even worse as a result of Haringey's tax and the coalition's caps and cuts.The health and educational consequences for families and individuals are particularly serious in Haringey where the rates of low birth-weight are among the highest in Europe. Between 2007 and 2009 the average rate of low birth weight for Haringey was 7.63%, England 7.53% and the OECD in 2008 6.4% with Iceland lowest at 3.8% and Turkey highest at 11%. Medical Research Council funded research finds that women who eat an unhealthy diet are at a higher risk of delivering early and of their babies of being born with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and or learning disabilities. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/05/survival-rates-premature-babies-rise?

The unemployment benefits expected to buy food, fuel, clothes and transport are now £56.25 a week aged 18-24 and then £71 for a single woman; the Rowntree minimum income standard in£91 a week, and a little short of double that for a couple. Those incomes are being blitzed by the coalition. Poor maternal nutrition exists now and will become even worse as a result of Haringey's tax and the coalition's caps and cuts. See Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health 1998 Chapter 7.
http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/doh/ih/part2e.htm

Professor Michael Crawford of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition has said that poor maternal nutrition, low birth weight associated with foetal growth restriction is the strongest predictor of poor learning ability, school performance, behavioural disorders and crime. http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/depts/fls/hhs/research/lnrc/

I am shocked that no alternative to hitting the fragile incomes of the poorest residents of Haringey with council tax was included in the recent consultation. Poverty already has a devastating effect on the health of families and the education of their children. There is no mention of all this in your letter in the Haringey People, only the vote catching point for the majority of the residents who vote that the council tax will remain frozen for the fourth year when that is palpably untrue for the poorest residents who will be paying for the freeze of their wealthier fellow residents council tax. 2nd Page on line. pagehttp://www.haringey.gov.uk/haringey_people_dec12-jan13.pdf

The Trust for London has shown that Haringey is the most unequal borough in London. http://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/publications-research/poverty-and-inequality/londons-poverty-profile-2011-launched.html.

A substantial proportion of the residents are able to pay a higher council tax. They are unlikely to be willing to do so until Haringey Council spells out correctly the misery inflicted on their poorest fellow citizens the tax, cuts and caps, and exposes the myths surrounding the incessant denigration of the poorest residents by the political parties.

It is vital that the council calculates, and the Cabinet considers and publishes the revenue from increasing the council tax, and leaving the 100% benefit untouched, as an alternative policy. I understand the need for the council to balance the books. I am shocked that no alternative to hitting the fragile incomes of the poorest residents of Haringey was included in the recent consultation.

With good wishes,

Paul Nicolson
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road,
Tottenham,
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at http://www.z2k.org
also at http://www.prohousingalliance.com
http://www.taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taxpayers-Against-Poverty/299911526728884


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