When I pay taxes I expect economic and social justice particularly for my fellow citizens without income or shelter.

6 May 2016

When I pay taxes I expect economic and social justice particularly for my fellow citizens without income or shelter.

I am continuing to refuse to pay my council tax but continue to pay around £4000 income tax, VAT and all the duty on the glass of red wine I have every evening. When I pay taxes I expect economic and social justice particularly for my fellow citizens without income or shelter.

There is nothing whatever just about the UK council tax or housing market.  

My concerns about the impact of council tax and its enforcement on the health and well-being of benefit claimants since April 2013 led me to ask Grant Thornton, the auditor of Haringey Council's accounts, to audit the £125 court costs, which the Tottenham Magistrates allow Haringey to charge for imposing a council tax liability order.

That £125 on top of council tax arrears, rent arrears and benefit sanctions are causing malnutrition and sending the poorest individuals and families in the UK to see their GPs and some of them on to the streets. 

I asked the auditors to apply to the High Court for a declaration that £125 court costs awarded against me by Tottenham Magistrates on the 2nd August 2013 were unlawful because they were too high. They refused despite reducing the £125 to £102 for a summons and from £125 to £115 for a liability order in June 2015. 

Neither I nor the public were told until too late that the Magistrates had agreed the Council's decision to reduce the costs in June 15; by the time I discovered this,  because I was helping a late payer,  it was too late too challenge the decisions.  

I appealed Grant Thorton's refusal to the High Court and lost on the 25th February 2016. Haringey was ordered to pay their own costs of £12,000; I was ordered to pay Grant Thornton's Costs of £47,000!!. Which I will never pay because it is impossible.   

I had specifically drawn Grant Thornton's attention on the 3rd May 2015 to the work of the Government Office for Science and the Royal College of Psychiatriststhat links debt to mental health problems. Grant Thornton replied on the 5th May 2015; 

"We have no remit over related public sector bodies nor to opine on the impact of this policy on the well-being of those required to pay council tax”.

I am now trying to persuade the Civil Court of Appeal to hear my case. I am strongly opposed by the legal teams of Haringey Council and Grant Thornton. The issues are important. 

1) Is it the duty of a private company undertaking public duties to take into consideration the same governmental guidance, ministerial statements and Supreme Court decisions about vulnerable citizens as those which should be taken into consideration by the local authorities, the magistrates and other statutory bodies?

 2) New evidence has emerged of massive inconsistency between councils in England compliance with the The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 see the witness statement from Neil Gilliatt on the TAP website. This information came into the my possession on the 3 May 2016. It is a remarkable part of the story that has only just emerged. 

On the first issue; Now so many public services and duties are being privatised it is vital that the most vulnerable people in the UK should not lose the governmental protections, when they are in debt that I and others have fought for. Auditing local authority accounts was privatised in 2012 from the Audit Commission, who would have to take into account all relevant evidence, disregard irrelevant evidence and be rational (the Wednesbury Principles) .

I have initiated three governmental safe guards for vulnerable people with the lowest incomes since I founded the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust in 1996.

First Ian Wise, now a QC, another Barrister Alan Murdie and I persuaded the then Lord Chancellor's Department in 2001 to include procedures for bailiffs when they turn up on the  doorsteps of vulnerable people (See paras 70-77). 

Secondly Lord Ramsbotham in 2012  tabled an amendment I proposed to the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2012 which caused Lord Freud to assure Parliament that decisions makers would abide by the Wednesbury principles; he said "decision-makers will have to consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant's health condition and financial circumstances". See just above 25 Jan 2012 : Column 1062 at 4.15 

Thirdly a phone call to Ian Wise QC in 2012 started the journey of the case of Mosely v Haringey to the Supreme Court. The five judges included in their judgement "Those whom Haringey was primarily consulting 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. The protest of The Rev. Nicolson in his letter dated 10 December 2012 was well-directed." see paragraphs 22 & 29. 

Al three have been cited in my arguments to the Civil Court of Appeal requesting hearing.