Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Claimants to Pay Council Tax: Will this be the Coalition’s Poll Tax Moment?

with 7 comments

A few weeks ago the New Statesman asked if plans to make those on benefits pay a proportion of Council tax will become the Coalition’s ‘Poll Tax’ moment.

“At present, those households deemed too poor to meet the monthly charge receive Council Tax Benefit to cover all or part of their bill. With 5.9 million recipients, it is claimed by more families than any other means-tested benefit or tax credit. Now, in its quest to roll back the welfare state, the coalition has cut the fund for Council Tax Benefit by 10 per cent. At the same time, it has localised the system, transferring responsibility for the new regime from central government to local councils.

From this April, councils must either maintain current levels of support and impose greater cuts elsewhere, remove other exemptions (such as those for second homes and empty properties), or ask those who receive a full or partial rebate at present to make a minimum payment. Early signs suggest that most will opt for the latter. An analysis by the Resolution Foundation and the New Policy Institute found that, of the 86 councils that have published their plans, 57 intend to introduce a minimum payment of between 6 and 30 per cent of a full council-tax bill.

On 8 January, Birmingham City Council announced it would impose a 20 per cent charge on the unemployed. That will mean a minimum payment of £200 a year for households affected.

A letter in the Guardian has since revealed,

The council has decided to charge people on benefits 20% council tax. Its analysis shows that 73 individuals will have to pay between £41.43 and £158.01 a week out of their £71 weekly jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), due to the cumulative impact of the council tax and the overall benefit cap from April. Also 49 couples with two children will have to pay between £72.40 and £255.24 out of their JSA plus children’s benefits of £258 a week.

We now see that the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign has been more and more active.

“Heed your own warning on “chaos” of Council Tax Benefit changes: Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign urges Nottingham City Council

The campaign group have written to the Council asking them to take seriously their own criticism of their latest proposals for a Council Tax Benefit Support Scheme for 2013/14. Instead of going ahead with an 8.5% cut to all Council Tax Benefit recipients of working age, they say the Council should delay passing on the cuts. The Council are permitted to pass a scheme with zero cuts to Council Tax Benefit for 2013/14 and still be entitled to transitional funding. If they did this, they would have a year to build a campaign with local residents and other groups across the country to demand a sustainable and fair alternative and prevent the introduction of a minimum 20% cuts in 2014/15.


Ipswich will see a charge for the unemployed introduced, forced by Eric Pickles the Tory Minister in charge to be at a higher rate than the Council wanted (probably at around 8%).

But in some parts of London it’s going to be higher than Haringey: at 25%!


Written by Andrew Coates

January 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm

7 Responses

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  1. More on another front, Hat-Tip ken,

    “A documentary investigation into one of the firms responsible for delivering the Government’s £5bn Work Programme claims to have found evidence of staff using an ‘offensive’ code to describe disabled and jobless people.

    Clients of Triage, a key player in the Government’s plan to pay private companies to move people from benefit into work, were referred to as ‘LTB’ – code for “lying, thieving bastards”, a former employee alleges.

    Linda Smith, who worked for Triage, which operates in Scotland and the north of England, told the BBC that the term was used to describe jobless and disabled clients, and that the company used a practice known as ‘parking’ to keep disabled people on their books.

    Mrs Smith said that under the scheme firms can earn more money from taking on the disabled people as clients, but that once they are on the company’s books staff are told to spend as little time as possible helping them find work.

    “They would be put on telephone interviews… just to make sure that there was this contact made so they could tick a box to say, ‘Yeah, they’re still on the Work Programme’,” Mrs Smith said.

    The BBC claims that four other former Triage employees confirmed the use of the LTB code and told the BBC similar stories about clients on their books being ‘parked’.

    Tony Wilson, 34, from Middlesbrough was referred to the Work Programme through Triage in February 2012, told the BBC he believes he has been ‘parked’: “They haven’t done a single thing to help me in any way.”

    He also condemned the use of the LTB label allegedly given to those on long-term benefits: “That’s offensive. It’s unprofessional. It’s – so many words I could say about that. It’s just wrong.”

    In response to the allegations Triage said: “It is standard practice, particularly for those clients that are sick or who have otherwise been unable to attend, to telephone them to check on their progress and maintain contact. Triage’s delivery structure of the Work Programme does not allow for ‘parking’.

    “The compliance requirements of the programme demand a frequency of contact and this together with our own commitment to excellence and meeting client needs means that ‘parking’ is not an option.”

    Triage also claimed that use of the term LTB was an isolated incident, adding: “This is not a phraseology used or accepted by Triage.”

    Panorama: The Great Disability Scam? is on BBC One, Monday, 28 January at 20:30 GMT and then available in the UK via the BBC iPlayer.


    Andrew Coates

    January 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

  2. The government can’t add up. They give £71 JSA then want £158 back for council tax. That is a pretty big minus number. (if I marked their maths GCSE they would get a Fail) If you give them every penny of your benefits to pay council tax, how do you pay rent? get a bus to the job centre? buy clothes? feed the meter? EAT?????

    Oh we should be incentivised?

    At elections candidates have to publish their addresses. Got an MP who votes for this policy? Well how’s this for taking initiative? Their car radio might pay some of that council tax. Or the whole car. Cut-and-shut, flog it back to another unsuspecting tory.
    (well you DID say we’re all criminals…)

    Council tax is not meant to be levied if you’re disabled, in a house of students for example. Councils ignore their own rule. ‘Not disabled’ when it comes to tax, but if you apply to work for them ‘sorry you’re too disabled’. It’s incidentally a crazy and discriminatory rule. If a part time worker, parent, carer, disabled, or on benefits, you might only be able physically and financially and legally to be a part-time student. Not being a full time student, makes the whole house subject to council tax and yourself liable for 100% of it.

    Tax a lot on a rich person, and often the only impact on them is ‘Darling I’m so very sad, we can only afford ten longhaul holidays this year’. Tax a bit on a skint person, and the result is they will lose their house.

    Straitened times, to a rich person, might mean owning 6 houses (Prince Philip plural: hice)
    and (OMG!!) having to sell one. Straitened times to the poorest, the already stretched, can be the choice between a quid in the meter or a quid on some food.

    The poor should move somewhere CHEAPER, and ask for higher wages?
    Have they read Oliver Twist? Or seen a film of it? The usual response of the workhouse boss to ‘Please sir I want some more’?!
    Where do they move, a garage?

    The rich can spend in one meal more than twice what a benefits claimant gets in a year.
    There are people who can’t remember the location of all their clothes racks/ clothes rooms. There are people who own one pair of socks.

    Middle class ‘healthy food’ commentators go on about low prices, junk food and five a day, when the poor might not afford five a month. They laugh at a 25p can of economy baked beans (to be eaten cold from the can, as the power has crapped out again).; THIS IS SOME PEOPLE’S WHOLE DAY’S FOOD. Sure a lot of us would eat healthy food if we all owned our own hygienic kitchen and could afford it.


    Who needs teeth when you can suck up a pot noodle?

    Unhealth ministry: HM Government is bad for your health, but we don’t give a stuff.

    Get the Biafra look in Bolton today! Eat skeletal! On the generous slimming plan,
    JobSeekers Allowance!

    As soon as your kids get TOO sick from you being on the dole, we’ll take them off you.

    If councils want more tax why does it take them 15 years to fix a pothole?

    They are alive, yet dead! The Zombies are coming! They walk among us! Gove! Grayling! Cameron! Duncan Smith!
    (-You are giving our people a bad name! – NUZ, National Union of Zombies)

    If you can’t cope on only quarter of your rent being paid as housing benefit – we’ll give you a sixth!

    Rooms available: Central London location, Well-appointed residence. Several hundred rooms available immediately for unemployed, homeless or refugee people. Rent is a very reasonable £0.00pcm. Comes with resident couple, one in later stages of dementia, but corridors long enough to avoid them. Spare rooms can be used for pet llamas/crocodiles, cannabis factories (Youth Enterprise Project), and sex shops. Some trees in area, but we’re too stoned to count them. Unsightly flag; could be removed and replaced with North Korean one, or with your pants. In-house homoerotic entertainment provided by male marching band. Occasional influx of Japanese tourists, opportunity to swap sushi recipes or peace cranes. Found round thing in cupboard, think it’s frisbee, bit gold and clunky and heavy though. If enough tenants join, we could start a frisbee team.
    Apply now (or just turn up) http://www.squatbuckpal.org

    something survived...

    January 30, 2013 at 12:16 am

    • An excellent summary: this new tax on the poor makes my blood boil!

      Andrew Coates

      January 30, 2013 at 5:07 pm

  3. Where I live (prosperous Huddersfield, lol) JSA claimants will have to pay 29%.


    February 1, 2013 at 10:15 am

    • In Scotland, as far as I know, the introduction of the Council Tax penalty for benefit claimants has been delayed for another year.

      On the other hand, the old Poll Tax was first tried out in Scotland as a proving guide by Mrs Thatcher one year ahead of England and Wales!


      February 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

      • Correction: “proving guide” should of course have been “proving ground”!


        February 1, 2013 at 11:39 am

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