Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Council Tax Benefit Scrapped: Half a Million More Face Courts.

with 45 comments

After the scandal of Pension Pots, comes the legacy of the Man who ate all the Pies, Eric PicklesSecretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Grinding the Faces of the Poor into Mincemeat.

Pickles (pictured above) removed Council Tax Benefit with these aims in mind:

  • To make life more difficult for anybody on benefit.
  • To give a shot in the arm to pawn shops, loan sharks (legal and illegal).
  • Lengthen Food Bank queues.
  • To attack the finances of local authorities under Labour control – where unemployment and benefit claimants are most numerous – worse.
  • To make everybody suitable for work and increase employment opportunities (okay I made that last one up).

He did this by the simple means of making your Council responsible for deciding whether to make claimants pay Council Tax, and at what rate they should pay it.

All funding for this is now their responsibility.

No surprises for learning that under many Tory councils (though unfortunately not exclusively) claimants pay massive Council Tax Bills.

The result?

Read and gnarl. 

Half a million more people were summoned to court last year over unpaid council tax, after benefits protecting low-income families from paying it were scrapped.

Almost three million people in England were taken to court by local authorities in 2013-14 because they had not paid council tax. This was an increase of more than 25 per cent on the previous tax year, according to the figures obtained via Freedom of Information by False Economy, which is brought to you by local campaigners about the cuts and their effects.

The Coalition abolished council tax benefit in 2013, replacing it with a new support scheme administered locally with a 10 per cent smaller budget. The old benefit used to mean that unemployed people or those on very low incomes did not pay council tax, but now most local authorities charge everyone.

Reports the Independent.

It continues,

Chaminda Jayanetti, a researcher at False Economy, said: “Council tax support cuts have caused chaos for households, and for councils. They are leaving people out of pocket and in debt, which is also bad for local firms depending on them as customers.

“Councils are now pursuing people through the courts for money they do not have. It is a shambles made by a cabinet of millionaires in a government that has been completely out of touch with reality.”

For those eligible for council tax support, many of whom would before have had nothing to pay at all, the annual increase in court summons was more than 400 per cent.

Councils have to decide whether to charge their lowest-income households or not – but since their budget to cover the tax for the poorest has been slashed by £490m, most do. Of 326 local authorities in England, 244 introduced minimum payments that even the jobless have to pay.

Kris Hopkins, minister for local government, said: “Council tax bills doubled under Labour, and … council tax benefit soared. Welfare reform has been vital to tackle Labour’s budget deficit.

“Our reforms to localise council tax support now give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people into work.”

Local Government carries the same story,

Half a million more people have been summoned to court over unpaid council tax in the past year, figures reveal.

Freedom of Information requests from group False Economy show three million people were taken to court by England’s town halls over 2013/14 because they had not paid council tax, a 25% increase on the previous tax year – the Independent reports.

Campaigners blamed the rise on the abolition of council tax benefits, which previously protected the poor or unemployed from paying the levy. Local authorities saw the national system replaced with locally devised council tax support (CTS) two years ago, as funding was devolved and cut by 10%.

The data came as a report from the New Policy Institute found council tax discounts being offered to poorer households were being cut by local authorities for the third year running. Over two million of the lowest earning families are now thought to be paying £167 more every year in council tax than they were in 2010.

I paid my Council Tax installment last week.

It rankled.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

45 Responses

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  1. Yes, two posts in a day.

    When I got home and looked at my copy of the ‘I’ (the favourite paper of the unemployed) this really got me!

    Andrew Coates

    April 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm

  2. This is important:

    “Samantha Cameron has given her first interview in years and “finally” revealed all to the Mail on Sunday about how she felt when her disabled son, Ivan, died.

    Politics is a battle of personalities, so I don’t feel cynical about this. I feel matter-of-fact.
    As the parent to a “desperately disabled” child – as David Cameron described his son in the recently televised leadership debate – I know first hand how people find parents like me inspirational. People say they could never do it – they are wrong. I’m a parent and no different to every other parent; if your child is hurt you take care of them. That doesn’t make David or Samantha Cameron – or me – better than other parents.

    But, public perceptions are important in winning elections. We’d hope a politician wouldn’t use his wife in this way in the run up to a General Election, but surely we all know some would. So the shock that some express is a bit lost on me. There is a far bigger issue at hand here. And, because his son died, major news outlets and politicians of any party shy away from discussing it.

    I don’t have those qualms.

    There is something really wrong with David Cameron.

    I would say that about any parent of a disabled child who would go out of their way to make the lives of other disabled children worse. There is a complete lack of compassion in the man or lack of understanding of the real world that should genuinely worry us about voting him back into power.

    David Cameron not only allows but enacts legislation that hurts children. If elected again, it will only get worse. Last week, the BBC reported on a leaked document which said that the sick and disabled will bear the brunt of future Tory austerity cuts. According to them, the Tories will:

    Restrict Carer’s Allowance

    Restrict Employment and Support Allowance

    Tax disability benefits

    Cap benefits nationally

    Include Council Tax Support in the benefits cap

    Restrict Child Benefit to two children

    In the article, Samantha Cameron says, “[By] the end of the first year we’d both been working and Ivan needed 24-hour care. We were totally shattered and pretty much at breaking point.” Then, she said that they were “saved” when doctors noticed they were struggling and provided respite care for Ivan at night.

    That respite care that the Cameron’s depended on for their sanity? Local councils are cutting that too. In my local council, Lambeth, we received word earlier this year that the vital holiday respite play scheme that May and all the other children at her special needs school use may no longer receive funding after this Easter. Last month, the Independent reported that, “More than one in three councils in England and Wales has cut spending on “portage” services for young children in the past year; one in five no longer has any service at all.”
    The government can wipe their hands of this by claiming that local councils make local decisions, but when their budgets are slashed by 40%, something’s got to go.*

    Most people would not deny a “desperately disabled” little girl and her mother who has leukaemia the benefits listed above, but the image the Tory party press on the nation is not of us. Or, of Ivan and his parents. Instead, the party is happy to run Samantha Cameron’s story in a tabloid that encourages the electorate to believe that it is scroungers and liars who take advantage of the benefits above.

    So, here we are. May is six years old so she can’t hold down a job. But, her mother did, until she was diagnosed with cancer that is. She worked as a teacher for over a decade in London’s inner city schools.

    http://www.mamalewis.com/2015/04/06/the-shocking-truth-about-samantha-camerons-interview/

    Andrew Coates

    April 7, 2015 at 3:12 pm

  3. This is another example of political mischief,irresponsible conservative tactics with total disregard for any reason. you cannot get blood out of a stone but that doesnt stop them.

    Local authorities that previously held one court date a month for arrears are now holding several.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/02/bedroom-tax-cuts-council-tax-support-poor-people

    ken

    April 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm

  4. Middle-income families will be in the line of fire of Tory spending cuts after George Osborne declined to rule out a plan to deprive 4.3m families of child benefit at a cost of £1,000 a year per family, Labour has warned.

    In an escalation of the row between the Conservatives and Labour over tax policy, Chris Leslie, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said millions of families could suffer if the Tories wrapped child benefit into the new universal credit.

    The chancellor said: “You can look at our track record – the £21bn we have saved in this parliament. You can look at the principles that will apply to future such savings. As I say, this is perfectly achievable. Anyone who thinks the job of reforming welfare has somehow been completed is mistaken. We want to go on creating a welfare system which rewards work and the aspirations of families are protected.”

    You can see from our track record: we have created a welfare system where child poverty is down, inequality is down, we have a record low number of workless households. What we are doing is creating a welfare system where it pays to work.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/07/conservative-spending-cuts-middle-income-familes-labour

    enigma

    April 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm

  5. Sturgeon To Push For Action On Child Poverty.

    SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has today (7 April) set out her parties plans to “tackle the scourge of child poverty” after the general election.

    One million additional children are expected to be plunged into poverty by 2020, taking the total level across the UK to a staggering 5 million. 100,000 more Scottish children will be pushed into poverty over the next five years, according to figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

    The SNP say “it is shameful that so many of these children are living in a household where one or both parents work”.

    The IFS has estimated that coalition welfare cuts have saved taxpayers just £2.5bn. While the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the cost of the cuts to Britain’s poorest households will total £29 billion in the short-term and have a detrimental impact on children’s futures.

    http://www.welfareweekly.com/sturgeon-to-push-for-action-on-child-poverty/

    enigma

    April 7, 2015 at 8:40 pm

  6. NON VOTER AND POOR VOTER COULD BE THE SAME PERSON

    WE ARE THE MAJORITY VOTER, OUTNUMBERING ALL OTHERS

    VOTE DIFFERENT

    NO SUCH THING AS A SMALL PARTY TODAY

    Voting has never been more important or with greatest influence by small parties.

    No single party can ever again form a UK government on its own.

    A herd of a group of parties can reach the threshold of 323-326 MPs.

    Vote Labour where there is a sitting Labour MP in England (the biggest nation of the UK nations).

    Vote SNP in Scotland and Vote Plaid Cymru in Wales.

    This gives 59 SNP seats and 40 Plaid Cymru. These seats are not lost to Labour, because there can be more than 2 parties in a coalition.

    Only a group of parties can bring about a secure majority government ever again.

    Vote different as below in England, when you have a sitting Tory or Lib Dem MP inthe job, where it is just as vital to come out and vote the parties of the poor of the left, the media will not tell you about.

    PARTIES OF THE POOR OF THE LEFT – VOTE THEM IN ENGLAND

    TACTICAL VOTING.

    THIS IS PUTTING PENCIL CROSS IN A BOX
    TO ENSURE FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS, YOUR GRANNY / GRANDAD, AS WELL AS YOURSELF

    – TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) – about 134 MP candidates
    and 1000 councillor candidates in the 6000 council elecitons on the same day.

    Offer to reverse rise in retirement age and rise the lowest state pension of all rich nations

    – Class War – about a dozen candidates throughout the UK
    Double dole and pension

    Socialist GB – about 10 candidates
    The original that will be the teacher

    The Left Unity Party – about 10 candidates
    Abolish not only Bedroom Tax, but sanctions, workfare, and the whole kit and caboodle causing starvation and homelessness

    National Health Action Party – 13 candidates
    Vote for them where your local hospital faces closures or reduced services and do not have any of the above parties of the poor as an alternative to vote for.

    Even Communist or Green socialism candidates running as MPs, where none of the above running.

    WHERE TWO OF THE ABOVE RUNNING IN SAME VOTING AREA

    Choose TUSC as it is the 6th biggest party for MP or councillor.

    THE SMALL PARTIES ARE THE SOLE WAY TO GAIN AN ANTI AUSTERITY UK GOVERNMENT

    Each such MP of the above will all be in the UK government and ruling, and a good few candidates in these parties are women (far more than the so-called big party).

    LABOUR WILL BE INSIDE ANY SUCH GROUP COALITION, but cannot win on its own.
    The small parties will make Labour an entirely anti austerity party.

    MORE INFO / LOGOS TO RECOGNISE ON THE BALLOT SHEET THAT THE POLLING STATION OFFICIAL WILL HAND TO PUT YOUR PENCIL CROSS IN THE BOX BY /
    HOW ENSURE REGISTERED TO VOTE

    http://www.anastasia-england.me.uk

    Chris

    April 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

  7. What in the US will come here.

    Tory education policy: Send parents back to school for maths lessons.

    A Tory government will examine plans to give parents maths lessons in schools so that they can help their children with homework.

    Senior sources told The Daily Telegraph that a Conservative government after the general election will look at an American-style scheme which offers lessons at parents’ evenings because so many adults struggle with modern maths curriculums.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/11520568/Tory-education-policy-Send-parents-back-to-school-for-maths-lessons.html

    enigma

    April 7, 2015 at 10:37 pm

  8. Maximus, the company carrying out employment and support allowance assessments, claim to be operating a policy which appears to discriminate against some claimants with mental health conditions by not sending them an ESA50 form, Benefits and Work can reveal.

    Regular readers will be aware that Benefits and Work has been investigating why some ESA claimants are not being sent ESA50 forms prior to a face-to-face medical assessment.

    ESA50 forms give a claimant the opportunity to explain how their condition affects them and ensure that accurate evidence is available to the health professional carrying out a face-to-face assessment.

    They are a vital part of the work capability assessment and not completing one puts a claimant at a serious disadvantage, as the decision maker is then likely to be obliged to rely primarily on the evidence from the Maximus health professional.

    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3065-esa-mental-health-claimants-being-denied-chance-to-complete-vital-esa50-form

    enigma

    April 8, 2015 at 6:49 am

  9. OFF TOPIC. BUT TODAY I TRIED TO CALL THE BENEFIT HELPLINE AT O8;OO WHEN THEY 1ST OPENED. GOT MESSAGES AND THE MUSIC FOR 6 MINUTES AND STILL DID NOT SPEAK TO ANYBODY. THAT WAS AT 25P A MINUTE. I AM UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT IF YOU HAVE CALLED IN THE PAST AND QUERIED THINGS AND CHECKED OUT OTHER PAYMENTS ETC. YOUR NUMBER IS PUSHED TO THE BACK OF THE QUEUE. IT COULD ALSO BE THAT THEY ONLY ANSWER A CERTAIN NUMBER OF CALLS AND LEAVE OTHERS HANGING ON ?.

    mrmiddlesex

    April 8, 2015 at 7:33 am

  10. DID YOU KNOW,

    Molson coors wont interview people who cant afford a webcam or gain access to one.

    Just ask Vivienne Pearsons

    Molson coors Recruitment Specialist.

    gaia

    April 8, 2015 at 9:11 am

    • All kinds of discrimination going on, I have seen a lot of jobs on line which everyone no doubt has seen where you have to send a photo when applying.

      enigma

      April 8, 2015 at 10:47 am

      • The biggest one I find enigma, is where recruitment agencies are getting people to register online and thus parting with personal and or sensitive data without legally justifying the reason to process which is requested under the data protection act prior to taking any such data.

        To make matters worse they also flaunt the data protection act by not posting privacy/process policies along with the job adverts and also many are stating implied consent once the CV is sent in.

        Unless an agency is paying the applicants wages (runs contracted staff service), they have no legal reason to ask for bank details and or utility bills.

        Unless you have been offered the position, never hand over bank details or utility bills.

        Never email personal and or sensitive data but express that you are happy to present them for viewing at only an interview in the interests of security and privacy.

        gaia

        April 8, 2015 at 11:18 am

      • All fine and dandy, but if you don’t play ball you can kiss any job offer good-bye.

        Ben Dover

        April 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

      • That’s all fine and dandy ben dover but the part you left out or didn’t know is, the ball you mention has to be legal, you know, regulations, acts,etc.

        All that I mentioned above is clearly expressed in the data protection act and these agencies know this yet break the law so they can profit from giving your data to other people like target advertisement media, marketing, etc.

        Claimants have reported increases in dodgy phone calls and emails like PPI for instance ever since submitting CVs to recruitment agencies. I even approached various agencies on the question and todate they have all refused to comment which I don’t know about you, speaks volumes just like when they refused to comment on how many people they helped secure work who were listed unemployed rather than in a job and looking for another. You see theres no money in agencies helping unemployed people unless all the working ones are happy with there job which as we know many are not. An unemployed person doesn’t create a job vacuum but a working one does.

        Also the agencies that offer staff to employers and pay them themselves like best connections say, have shelved shell companies and took up the post themselves so as to fiddle taxes and national insurance to increase there profits so as to not charge potential employers anymore.

        gaia

        April 8, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      • The same goes for the DWP, if you “don’t play ball” or as I would put it “don’t play their game” then you can kiss your benefits good bye 🙂 but as Gaia and others know, there are also rules and regs, that apply in the benefits system, which tells us that most things that the DWP throw at us are not mandatory.

        enigma

        April 8, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    • Another Fine Mess

      April 8, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      • Is she denying it another fine mess because im quite happy to post the letter she sent out declaring the process of using a webcam for interview as I quote, “mandatory”.

        Maybe she was an advisor in her previous job ?

        gaia

        April 9, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      • Don’t know about the photo bit, only had a quick look.

        Why would a Brewery employ 7 recruitment specialists, when all the boss has to do is pick up the phone and speak to an agency?
        That’s more ‘recruitment specialists’ than some agencies employ with 10,000s of ‘jobs’ and 100,000s of CVs?

        BTW In the past, I’ve worked with some of the people with pages on linkedin, and their CVs there are quite fictional!

        Anyone who reads/posts on IUA might as well update their CV with:
        Current Employment: Internet and Social Media Communications Specialist.

        Another Fine Mess

        April 9, 2015 at 5:13 pm

  11. “08:25 Wednesday 08 April 2015.

    Fife.

    Unanimous backing over welfare sanctions.

    A call for the suspension of welfare sanctions described as “draconian” and “immoral” has received the unanimous backing of Councillors.

    The motion recommending the immediate suspension of sanctions affecting households with children and against anyone with a mental illness was tabled by SNP leader Peter Grant.

    In a moving speech to the chamber he told fellow Councillors of constituents who had had their welfare benefits stopped for up to four weeks for attending a funeral or giving birth, and told of some admitting they had been driven to consider suicide.

    Under Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) legislation, claimants failing to attend meetings have found their payments frozen regardless of a viable explanation. Furthermore, many that have successfully appealed the sanctions had in fact been refused a back payment for the time they had been left with out benefits.

    “It was not a question of economics but a question of basic humanity,” said Mr Grant.

    “The state is deliberately taking punitive action against people who are ill, knowing their illness will get worse as a result.”

    Mr Grant based his motion on a report published last month by six leading churches and religious organisations highlighting the escalation of sanctions now being issued.

    Two motions, one from Labour highlighting that an estimated 13,000 people already sanctioned in Fife and calling for the impact on the region to be recognised, as well as a second from Cllr Bryan Poole noting the work of The People’s Assembly and unions in helping those on the receiving end of DWP legislation, were added to the motion which received unequivocal support from across the chamber.”

    http://www.fifetoday.co.uk/news/local-headlines/unanimous-backing-over-welfare-sanctions-1-3740433

    Andrew Coates

    April 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

    • I spent quiet a lot of time looking around that website, because one of my sisters lives near Kirkcaldy, She did many years ago go through a bad time which Peter Grant talked about.

      Hopefully the recommendations on sanctions come into affect after May.

      enigma

      April 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm

  12. I imagine sanctions play a pretty obvious part in people not paying council tax.

    If you have little money even for food the last thing you’re thinking is the monthly payment.

    Andrew Coates

    April 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

  13. “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.”

    http://www.taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/taxation-of-72-40-a-week-jsa-grotesquely-unfair-christmas-card-haringey-council-to-residents-a-council-tax-summons/

    This clearly demonstrates the targeting of vunerable people in society is taking place. jobseekers allowance is already at the minimum the law says to live on without having to find another amount.

    Councils are very evasive.here the CAB had the phone dropped on them quickly when erquires were made,blame the government was the answer.

    ken

    April 8, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  14. OT: Pension Pot

    Somethng I mentined over at VoxPolitical but it needs repeating to everyone:

    A Point to bear in mnd is something my sister said – used to work in the industry. “For every Pound” you take out you reduce future payments by tens [10s] or even hundreds of pounds from the monthly/yearly pay out – I STRONGLY SUSPECT it is in the hundreds.

    Beware of false economies.

    Gazza

    April 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    • Absolutely true, but many people will ignore this.

      Andrew Coates

      April 9, 2015 at 11:59 am

  15. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

    A6er

    April 8, 2015 at 10:23 pm

  16. How much more evidence or news on it do they need.

    There is “clear evidence” linking increased food bank use with UK areas that have seen greater unemployment and welfare and government spending cuts, scientists say.

    An Oxford University-led team used official government data and statistics from the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank backer, to look at why people were seeking free food.

    Their study looked at the competing claims, one that increased use of food banks is a response to economic hardship, and the other that it is a result of greater access to free food as the number of banks increases.

    Senior author Professor David Stuckler, of Oxford University’s sociology department, said: “We found clear evidence that areas of the UK facing greater unemployment, sanctions and budget cuts have significantly greater rates of people seeking emergency food aid.

    The report says: “More food banks are opening in areas experiencing greater cuts in spending on local services and central welfare benefits and higher unemployment rates.

    http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/national/food-banks-rise-linked-to-cuts-1-7199979

    enigma

    April 9, 2015 at 12:23 am

  17. Speedboats, cruises and holiday homes on pensioners’ shopping lists.

    Standard Life, one of the country’s biggest pension providers, said it had received more than 3,000 calls since the start of the week when the pension freedoms began. Most were from people keen to understand their options rather than to withdraw the money then and there, said the insurer.

    However, the firm allows customers to cash in pots worth up to £50,000 online by ticking a number of boxes to confirm they understand the implications of what they are doing. It said 1,000 people had already done so.

    Fidelity said calls to its retirement line were about four times the normal volume.. Of those that were requests to withdraw money, around one fifth wanted to cash in their pension pot in full.

    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/apr/09/speedboats-holiday-homes-on-pensioners-shopping-lists

    enigma

    April 9, 2015 at 2:57 pm

  18. Anyone who understands the workings of money will know debt has more significances to this government than cold cash. You see they don’t make money out of unemployed and or poor people so getting them into debt produces a profit or so they think.

    Why do you think the tories raised VAT ?

    If any go to court for council tax arrears just tell your brief your serve a sentence to the value of. You wont be in for long and as such means the government have to maintain your housing benefit so that coupled with court costs and imprisonment will blow any plans the tories have of making a profit.

    gaia

    April 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm

  19. It sounds more like the constructive setting people up to fail which,given the numbers involved its hardly surprising the outcome.

    Someone can only be sent to prison for wilful non payment,however the levels of benefits indicate again the likely outcome.

    ken

    April 9, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    • Even a failure produces no venue.

      The tories wont do anything that doesn’t in there eyes produce a profit.

      gaia

      April 10, 2015 at 9:57 am

  20. Does this mean that you are parents who are both working. Both working 37.5 hours a week so one of you can be home when the Kids are. Both earning £8.00 an hour or more. You get some help with WTC and CT. AS you are working 37.5 hours you COULD get sanctioned for NOT LOOKING for 40 Hours and 9.00 per hour ????????

    Help

    April 17, 2015 at 10:46 am

  21. I should have added advice please. Also what about singles with NO children

    Help

    April 17, 2015 at 10:51 am


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