Use your imaginations to understand extreme violence of councils sending bailiffs to collect council tax

21 August 2017

Use your imaginations to understand extreme violence of councils sending bailiffs to collect council tax from families and individuals struggling to survive on shredded benefits. 


Central and local government have been told for decades by the robust research of the Universities that inadequate income, debt and inequality impact on mental and physical health. Despite that robust evidence central government has since 2010 shredded already inadequate  benefit incomes and local authorities have began to tax them in 2013 and use the full force of the law to enforce the tax against our poorest fellow citizens.   

Haringey Council's computer has now sent out the next group of council tax cases to Newlyn the bailiffs - it sent out 11,000 last year.

I received my letter last week adding £115 courts costs and £75 bailiffs fees to my arrears of £1116.17 demanding payment by next Thursday.

The summons to court, 21,000 last year, the issuing of the liability order and the dispatch to the bailiffs have all been done by computer. The system is inhuman. 

I am asking those of you who have never tangled with a jobcentre, or never had the experience of applying to a local authority for a housing or a council tax benefit, to use your imaginations to understand the extreme violence of councils sending the bailiffs to the homes of people struggling to survive on shredded benefits.

To those who have had the experience I offer my solidarity.  Imagine;

You are a lone parent claiming benefits, one of 450,000 in UK, who has just visited a food bank to feed your three children - one of over a million at least visiting food banks. You get home with the children, having walked several miles because you have no money for the bus, to find a letter from the bailiffs. It has added £115 court costs and their fee of £75 to your £300 council tax arrears. They demand you pay in full within a week or they will visit you and add another £235 with another £110 if they call to collect your property to sell to pau off their fees first and the tax second.

  • Or you are a single adult working for an agency on zero hours contract. One of over 900,000 on UK and rising. You have not had any work for a month and...same letter.
  • Or the jobcentre has moved you on to the Universal Credit and you have not received any money for six weeks...same letter.
  • Or you are already paying £200 rent a month from the benefit income needed for food, water, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities, because your benefit income has been capped at £384.62 a week outside London and £442.31 a week in London.  To make the cap work they cut housing benefits and leave you the cover rent the housing benefit does not pay...same letter. 
  • Or you are an adult receiving £73.10 a week. The total number was 3.6 million in 2016/17. They add children's, housing and council tax benefits to that £73.10. It has been reducing in value since 1979.  
  • Or JSA was stopped for one month, three months or three years by the jobcentre benefit sanction of which there have been 1.8 million...same letters. 
  • Or while your income is stopped by a sanction you cannot pay off your council tax or rent arrears, or any other debts like utilities. They pile up during that time and are unmanageable when the sanction ends; you get threats of eviction and...same letter. 
  • Or you are already trying to cope with the bailiffs due to magistrates fines because you could not afford a TV license or your a child has been persistently truanting...same letter. 
  • Or you are disabled and the private company applying the Work Capability Assessment has failed you and your income has been reduced to £73.10 a week JSA which is all but worthless...same letter.
  • Or you have just learnt that the council is planning to demolish your council home...same letter. 
  • Or any of the above are happening simultaneously, or in grinding succession, due to the vicious laws and regulations of three powerful government departments, the DWP, the  MOJ and the DCLG/Local Authorities, are pitched mercilessly against the most vulnerable households...same letter. 

All that to enforce small civil debts against our fellow citizens.

If they ask you why the Rev Paul Nicolson is refusing the pay his council tax tell them he is a member of the Christian faith and like all the great faiths it has a rule which demands we love our neighbours as ourselves.

Christian love demands that we put the well-being of everyone at the top of our agenda, particularly the well-being of the most disadvantaged people, in our words and actions. The treatment of the poorest UK citizens by government during the 10 years since the crash in 2007 has been deeply offensive to the Christian principles of love, peace and justice.

The refusal to pay the council tax is like nothing compared to the refusal of government to support the lives, health and well-being of people who need our financial support to begin to flourish.  

Rev Paul Nicolson




Wed, October 18, 2017 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House, 1 Parliament St, Westminster, London, SW1A 2JR

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Taxpayers Against Poverty is co-hosting this event with the APPG on Health in All Policies and the APPG on Poverty. It will be Chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Chair of APPG on Health in all Policies.

The speakers will include Fred Harrison of the Land Research Trust. The people thrive on Land Value Tax in Australia, Denmark, Harrisburg Pennsylvania and other US cities and Hong Kong. The seminar will focus on how it works. Other speakers will be announced.