Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Council Tax Benefit

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

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.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Attacks on Welfare Lead to Poverty. Bring Back Council Tax Rebates Now!

How the Tories chose to hit the poor

Tom Clark. Guardian 2nd of July.

….frightening signs of hardship emerge, tied closely to the early benefit cuts. In line with the first restrictions on incapacity payments, there’s a sharp rise in poverty for disabled people. As the first housing benefit restrictions bit, on the breadline that adjusts for rising rent, 600,000 people sank into absolute poverty. Among children, so-called material deprivation – that is, families who can’t afford things such as birthday parties and warm winter coats – also edges up, as does the coalition’s new measure of “severe poverty”. And overall, the incomes of the poorest fifth are already faring worst.

But the true statistical picture of foodbank Britain will have to wait. For it was not until April 2013, at the very same time the 50p tax rate was chopped for the richest, that the poor were landed with a new household benefit cap which could leave children in London being raised on 62p a day. Poor families nationwide were then also faced with the reinvention of something very like the poll tax, as the national council tax rebate scheme was axed, and a three-year programme of holding benefits below inflation began. Clegg was just as craven in accepting this as he had been brave over indexing for living costs the year before.

Joyce says: “Just as benefits that outpaced wages led to reduced inequality immediately after the slump, government plans to reduce welfare spending in the next few years – while workers’ pay stabilises – are likely to push inequality back up.” The links between the coalition’s direct decisions and prospects for poverty are clear. There is no rise at all in hardship among pensioners, which fits with a whole series of special exemptions from the cuts. But a separate official survey revealed how overall taxation was rising for the poorest, even as it fell for others.

Council Tax Reduction replaced Council Tax Benefit in April 2013.

Each council runs its own scheme.

Having to pay a percentage of Council Tax – at rates which vary across the country – means, in reality, a massive cut in benefits.

More exactly, “Everyone of working age has to pay a minimum contribution of 8.5% of their Council Tax liability unless they are in a protected group. (War pensioners, war widow(er)s and people who receive Armed Forces compensation scheme payments will not have to pay the minimum contribution).”

That cash is not replaced by a rise in JSA and other benefits.

By October  2013 this was the picture,

Low-income families will see their council tax bills rise by up to £600 a year from April.

As a result of council tax benefit reform, No Clear Benefit shows that three-quarters of local authorities are set to demand increased payments from the 3.2 million poorest working-age households who currently pay either no council tax or a reduced charge. Families are facing a hike of more than 330 per cent in the most severe cases.

It comes as the government hands responsibility for council tax support to England’s 326 local authorities, along with a 10 per cent cut in funding for it. The government has insisted that pensioners are fully protected from any rise under the new localised system, known as council tax support, meaning that working-age households will bear the full brunt of the changes.

This was the result by October in the Capital.

Hundreds of London’s poorest and lowest-paid inhabitants attended a mass court hearing in south London on Friday, hoping to challenge non-payment of council tax orders issued by Southwark council, which had summonsed 5,800 people to attend

In  Essex those on benefits ended up having to pay 20% of Council Tax in 2013.

The result?

CHANGES to council tax rules have led to bailiffs being sent to 205 Colchester homes.

New benefits rules in April last year meant the majority of working age claimants now have to pay at least 20 per cent of their council tax.

The changes affected about 8,000 households in the borough which were asked to pay, on average, £169.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed 3,225 people found themselves in arrears at some point.

Of those affected, 40 per cent were receiving disability-related benefits and a further 40 per cent were single parents. Just 495 were employed.

The council subsequently sent out 1,500 summonses, followed by 1,235 liability orders, which it can do if the full amount is not paid within 14 days.

Of these cases, despite offers of help and a series of reminders, bailiffs were passed details of 205 residents who still owed cash.

Essex County Standard January 2014.

Ipswich Unemployed Action reported in April 2014,

Here’s the bad news – if you’re one of the 2.34 million low-income families who used to get council tax benefit, you will be paying on average £149 more in council tax this year than just over a year ago.

In some parts of the country, families once considered too poor to pay council tax face a bill of nearly £300 this year, according to a report by the New Policy Institute for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Last April the government scrapped council tax benefit which helped people on low incomes – either those working for low wages or because they were on benefit.

It was replaced by council tax support and devolved down to local authorities to administer – crucially, though, with a significantly reduced budget.

Initially some councils did try not to impact some of the poorest families. A year on, the figures show more councils than ever have started to insist all working-age adults – pensioners are exempt – must pay something, regardless of their income.

 

Clark comments that “last week Duncan Smith published an anti-poverty “strategy” claiming that his welfare reforms would transform “the lives of the most vulnerable”. ”

Indeed it has.

Council Tax: Claimants End up in Court.

A few weeks ago the Guardian reported,

Thousands in court for council tax arrears as benefit cuts hit home

Many people who were formerly exempt from paying now face court, as the bedroom tax adds to spiralling debt burden.
With government cuts to means-tested council tax benefit, many people are now facing liability orders for arrears. From April 2013, the government slashed funding for council tax benefit by £500m, and instructed local authorities to decide how the reduced benefit should be distributed. The poorest residents, unemployed, disabled or low paid, now find themselves paying council tax where previously they were exempt.

The sums seem small on paper, but to the unemployed and low paid, day to day, they’re untenable. Already on subsistence benefits and faced with rising living costs, even £3-5 is a big dent in a very meagre weekly budget.

As with the bedroom tax, the people receiving these bills previously weren’t charged because they didn’t have the means to pay. Their financial circumstances haven’t improved, they’ve only worsened as the cost of living has risen, but they’re expected to find even more money from ever-squeezed budgets.

Across the country, every poverty charity, MP and council official I spoke to repeated the same message – this is only the first wave of summonses: as the policy takes effect, and as more people struggle to keep up with payments, the courts will find more and more of the poorest in society in their courtrooms. As early as October 2013 Labour estimated that 450,000 vulnerable people had been summonsed as a result of the withdrawal in council tax benefit, and many more have been summonsed since.

Behind this is the following,

Withdrawal of council tax support leads to 30% increase in court proceedings

Councils that passed on government’s cut to means-tested council tax relief report doubling in rate of liability orders sent to non-payers.
The number of households threatened with bankruptcy, repossession and ultimately prison has increased at double the rate in local authorities that passed on government cuts to council tax benefits, leaving 670,000 facing bailiffs in the first six months of this year, new figures have revealed.

In local authorities that made no cuts to the benefit there was a 15% increase in the number of liability orders – issued by magistrates courts for non-payment of council tax – on the previous year as the economy stagnated. However, this figure jumps to 30% in local authorities that withdrew public assistance to the poor.

The survey of more than 200 local authorities, conducted using freedom of information requests by anti-cuts campaigners False Economy, revealed that more than 25 people a day were issued with liability orders between April and September in areas without council tax support.

Ministers cut funding for the means-tested benefit by

The figures in this area are stark:

Council: Suffolk Coastal
Political party: Cons
Change in liability orders: (%) 81.44

Council: St Edmundsbury (Suffolk)
Political party: Cons
Change in liability orders: (%) 90.11

Council: Tendring (Essex).

Political party: Cons

Change in liability orders: (%) 47.87%

 

The figures for other councils in the area near to Ipswich, and Ipswich itself,  are not given.

Indications are that the burden on benefit claimants is likely to increase significantly this year.

UKIP hate the Unemployed too.

UKIP don’t just loathe migrant workers.

They hate the unemployed here as well.

We are, UKIP says, “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”.  (The Void)

They want this policy,

Require those on benefits – starting with Housing and Council Tax Benefit recipients in private rented homes – to take part in council-run local community projects called ‘Workfare’ schemes. The schemes will be in addition to council jobs.

The Void comments that it is now hard to find the policy document that says this.

But more evidence keeps coming in of their views,

We have this,

Some long-term benefit claimants would be banned from using their benefit cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol or satellite TV subscriptions under proposals due to be presented at the UK Independence party’s spring conference on Saturday.

The proposed ban on paying for satellite TV comes only a fortnight after it was disclosed that Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and biggest shareholder of News Corp, had met the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, for the first time, prompting speculation that the Sun may support the party.

Ukip’s welfare plans also include proposals to stop paying benefits to EU or other foreign citizens living in the UK.

Now you can only get benefits in the UK if you have ‘habitual residence’.

That is you’ve lived and worked here.

So they want people who’ve paid taxes to get no JSA.

Now we have this,

After Scrapbook exposed sick comments from a UKIP councillor on banning unemployed people from voting, the party’s most high-profile new recruit has rushed to his defence, claiming Cllr Tom Bursnall “has a point”, going on to say it is “dangerous” to let unemployed people vote.

Having defected from the Tories, 23 year-old Alexandra Swann was the star turn at UKIP’s recent conference in Skegness — with party leader Nigel Farage proudly declaring that “the Swann has migrated”.

But appearing to agree with Cllr Bursnall, who as the former chair of Conservative Future is also a defector from the Tories to UKIP, she continued:

“allowing people to vote on how other people’s money is spent — if they don’t contribute — is dangerous” Here.

That’s the real UKIP: the enemy of the out-of-work.

New Poll Tax for the Working Poor and Unemployed as Council Tax Blow Approaches.

Tories and Liberals Introduce New Poll Tax: Will We Fight Back?

A little later than Ipswich Unemployed Action (our first major post on this was in September last year) , the BBC reports today on the new Poll Tax,

Millions of the poorest households face council tax rises because most councils in England will pass on a 10% benefit funding cut, research suggests.

A typical bill will rise from April by between £100 and £250 a year, but some could rise as much as £600, the Resolution Foundation think tank says.

And,

Millions of England’s poorest households, both in and out of work, are already very close to the edge,” said Gavin Kelly of the Resolution Foundation. “They are going to find it very hard to cope.”

Some campaigners have likened the change to the “poll tax“, in that people are asked for a contribution regardless of their ability to pay.

‘Low priority’

The Labour Party says the policy is deeply unfair, and will cause havoc with hundreds of thousands of people unable to pay the bills.

Many in local government fear that councils will be left with a financial black hole, as the cost of pursuing those who do not pay through the courts could be higher than the revenue the authorities will raise from them in tax.

The Resolution Foundation says,

Low-income families will see their council tax bills rise by up to £600 a year from April.

As a result of council tax benefit reform, No Clear Benefit shows that three-quarters of local authorities are set to demand increased payments from the 3.2 million poorest working-age households who currently pay either no council tax or a reduced charge. Families are facing a hike of more than 330 per cent in the most severe cases.

It comes as the government hands responsibility for council tax support to England’s 326 local authorities, along with a 10 per cent cut in funding for it. The government has insisted that pensioners are fully protected from any rise under the new localised system, known as council tax support, meaning that working-age households will bear the full brunt of the changes.

This is an addition to the new ‘bedroom tax’ which will hit those on Housing Benefit.

Guardian columnist   says (here),

Anger about the distressing impact of coalition austerity is gaining expression, focus and pace in the UK. There have been some marches, but NHS and welfare cuts were not met with mobs surrounding Downing Street brandishing pitchforks and flaming torches. I suspect the catalyst for mass protest might be the so-called “bedroom tax“.

Do you remember the poll tax? It was a turning point in public anger at Thatcher’s Tories. The hated community charge forced the unemployed to pay a contribution, and was based on the electoral register, but met with boycotts and riots. Resistance was so strong that it turned even Margaret Thatcher’s mindset: the poll tax was replaced by the current council tax.

The bedroom tax bomb hits in April, and tenants in social housing with so-called “spare rooms” are living in fear. Despite the fact that a three-bedroom housing association flat can be cheaper than a one-bed in the private sector, the architect of this fresh misery, welfare minister, Lord Freud – who lives with his wife in an eight-bedroom country mansion – decided tenants must move, or have money deducted from their housing benefit. One-bedroom flats are rare in the social sector, and claimants, especially those with children, never top a private landlord’s wishlist.

And there is the  effective cut in benefits,

“Key benefits, including jobseekers’ allowance, will rise by just 1% for the next three years, meaning a reduction in real terms.”

Let’s have a new Anti-Poll Tax Movement!