Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Eric Pickles

Council Tax Benefit (Support/Reduction) Messed up by Universal Credit.

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Eric Pickles has a Laugh at Claimants.

Pre-dating the mess of Universal Credit was the decision by Blubber Guts Eric Pickles to make all benefit claimants pay a proportion of Council Tax.

In 2013 we had, this “the benefit is being replaced by a new system, council tax support, that will be run by English local authorities but with 10% less funding.

It began like this,

 

Council tax benefit cuts: the expense of getting people with no money to pay up

2013.

Unlike the “bedroom tax“, which only affects tenants of councils and housing associations, changes to council tax benefits from April will also affect owner-occupiers and private tenants. It is currently claimed by 5.9 million recipients and is the most widely claimed means-tested benefit. Local authorities have been asked by the government to replace council tax benefit with new local schemes that reduce the amount of council tax relief councils can pay out.

 

Some have opted to protect the 100% council tax benefit that poorer residents who live in property in a low council tax band currently receive. Instead they are reducing the amount of benefit for people living in higher council tax band properties. Other councils have chosen to spread the cuts equally, opting for a maximum 90% rebate for everyone. In this case, people on the minimum income possible to survive will from April have to use their meagre income to pay 10% of their total council tax.

This was the result,

Eric Pickles and David Cameron handed local authorities the power to administer council tax benefit, then cut the budget by 10%, resulting in the number of households in council tax arrears to increase by 45%.

It soon developed: – and it is rare to find anywhere which has a 100% reduction today as the name “Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support)”  indicates.

Though there is this example (July 2019):

Some low income residents in South Ribble might not have to make a minimum contribution towards their council tax bills from next year.

South Ribble Borough Council is set to launch a public consultation on a proposal to scrap the so-called council tax support scheme, which means all working-age households pay a flat rate of £3.50 per week – even if their income level entitles them to help to cover the rest of the bill.

Now we have this, proving that if there’s one thing Universal Credit is good for, it’s making things worse.

DWP: Why Universal Credit is causing ‘one big headache’ over changes to council tax

Teesside Live.

Residents are being hit with different levels of bills due to complications caused by Universal Credit

Universal Credit is increasing the burden on struggling staff at a Teesside authority and leaving residents confused, due to its effect on council tax, a meeting heard.

Stockton Council has launched a six-month review into its council tax support scheme.

It does not take much to see that this must be happening across the country.

About 11,000 people receive council tax support in the borough and everyone of working age gets at least 20% of their bills.

But Julie Auffret, the council’s revenues and benefit services manager, has revealed how Universal Credit had hit both customers and council staff in how they dealt with council tax.

She told a meeting of the council’s place select committee that the introduction of Universal Credit was leasing to confusion and stress.

She said: “What it creates for us is complications which perhaps didn’t exist when we were dealing with housing benefit and council tax benefit ourselves.

“It meant we could calculate benefits at the same time – now that has been split, it has complicated it and makes it a slightly lengthier calculation than it used to be.”

Universal Credit rolled six benefits into one and was introduced in Stockton a year ago.

But the benefits manager explained month-on-month adjustments to Universal Credit had meant the council had to keep recalculating its own council tax support.

Ms Auffret said: “For us that’s becoming quite a significant administrative burden – and for customers it’s becoming difficult for them to understand why their council tax support is being recalculated repeatedly and why they’re getting lots of bills.

“We’d really like to explore a different way of doing things to make it simpler.”

Changes were made to the council tax system in 2013 when the Government abolished council tax benefit and told local authorities to form their own support schemes.

Stockton runs a “work incentive” programme designed to offer those on low incomes a boost from their wages.

But a review is being considered given the impacts of Universal Credit.

This was all so obvious…

Plus, the fact that we have had to pay this tax, without any corresponding increase in benefits, was another part of the great reduction in our basic living standard this lot of thieves introduced.

Johnson, and his mates, have no plans to change this unjust council tax regime.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 12, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Tories, Vasectomies, the Poor, the Unemployed, and the Fat.

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Eric Pickles Former Minister Set Example to Loafing Unemployed.

First it was this, in the Mirror (16th of January)

Tory MP warns poor overweight kids could become an ‘unemployable under-class’ if Britain doesn’t cure its obesity epidemic

Ex-Minister Andrew Selous warned poor kids are more likely to be overweight and suggested things were better when Popeye was a role model.

A Tory MP has warned that poor overweight kids will become an “unemployable under-class” in Britain’s obesity epidemic.

Former Minister Andrew Selous predicted dire futures for overweight during a Westminster debate on the public health crisis.

We cannot allow an unemployable under-class to grow up – children who are obese, who go on into adult life being obese, having a low self-image, low self-confidence, struggling to get work as a result, being on low-income or benefits.

“We are talking about a lifetime of opportunity if we don’t grasp this issue.”

Then it was this on the BBC.

A Conservative MP has apologised for a 2012 blog post in which he suggested benefit claimants should have vasectomies.

The 28-year-old Mansfield MP had been writing in support of the benefits cap.

“Sorry but how many children you have is a choice; if you can’t afford them, stop having them! Vasectomies are free,” his post read.

“Families who have never worked a day in their lives having four or five kids and the rest of us having one or two means it’s not long before we’re drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters that we pay to keep!”

The Daily Record adds,

Tory MP apologises for suggesting poor people should be sterilised

Ben Bradley warned in blog post that it would not be long before Britain would be “drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters”.

Tory MP promoted in Theresa May ‘s reshuffle has apologised over a blog post suggesting benefit claimants should have vasectomies.

Ben Bradley, who was named as Conservative vice chairman for youth, said people on welfare should stop having children if they could not afford them, before suggesting sterilisation.

The Mansfield MP, 28, was writing in support of the benefits cap and suggested it would not be long “before we’re drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters”.

Apparently this is because he is out for the “inspirational working people’s vote.

Not to mention this article, another past comment which cuts out a few aspirational workers.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2018 at 11:59 am

Council Tax: as Claimants Have to Pay Arrears Rise, Rise and Rise.

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Eric Pickles: Inflicted Council Tax Debt on Poor while Stuffing Himself with Pies.

Having just paid my monthly Council Tax bill – at the last possible moment – this issue flagged by Ken is something hard not to notice.

It is hardly a coincidence that the rate of arrears has grown massively since people on the Dole – that is a the minimum you are supposed to need to live in – had their money cut by having to fork out this extra monthly bill.

Nor is a surprise that many people put electricity, gas and water, not to mention food, above Council Tax as a priority.

I would lay a hefty bet that the rise is in large part due to this obligation for claimants to ‘contribute’.

On food alone mind you it’s not only the out-of-work who struggle: “More than 8 million in UK struggle to put food on table, survey says. Food Foundation reveals scale of food insecurity, with 4.7 million thought to be regularly going a day without eating.”

The man responsible for this burden on the poorest, Eric Pickles – not somebody who looks he;s ever been short of a good nosh – desigend the system partly to punish those on benefits, and partly to make life more difficult for Labour councils where they will eb forced to reply oin this expensive to collect and oppressive scheme.

Piggy Pickles is up there with Iain Duncan Smith as an enemy of us lot.

Debt Charities Warn Of Record Levels Of Council Tax Arrears. Welfare Weekly.

Two debt charities have called on local authorities to end the practice of passing vulnerable residents Council Tax debts to bailiffs.

Two leading debt advice charities have called on local authorities to end the practice of passing vulnerable residents Council Tax debts to bailiffs, as figures show the level of arrears has hit a record high.

Analysis by the StepChange debt charity found that average Council Tax arrears have increased from £717 in 2011 to £961 in 2015, an increase of 25 per cent. Just 14 per cent of the charity’s clients we’re struggling with Council Tax arrears in 2011, but this has now increased to a shocking 30 per cent.

 Figures from National Debtline, an expert advisory service run by the Money Advice Trust, closely mirror those from StepChange. Nearly one in four calls (24%) to the specialist service were from people with Council Tax arrears in 2015, compared to just 14 per cent in 2007.

Both charities have expressed concerns with the increasing use of enforcement agents by local authorities. The Money Advice Trust’s ‘Stop The Knock’ campaign has revealed how 1.27 million debts directly related to Council Tax arrears were referred to bailiffs in 2014/15.

An independent review, led by former MP Eric Ollerenshaw, has also expressed concerns over the increasing use of enforcement agents by local authorities in recovering debts.

More here.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2016 at 3:35 pm

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

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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

Poor Will Refuse to Pay Council Tax.

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Eric Pickles: I want your Dole Money!

The Guardian covers this story today,

Local authorities have conceded that up to 84% of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes this April, and admit there is little they can do about it.

Ministers have cut the support for means-tested council tax benefit by £500m, and told local authorities to decide where the axe should fall. The result is that 326 town halls in England have put forward “local” council tax schemes – with residents in neighbouring regions facing wildly different penalties.

Nationally the council tax benefit cuts will mean the poor face an average bill of £247 a year from April, a charge from which they are currently exempt.

But because the sums average less than £5 a week, councils are warning that it would “in many cases be uneconomic to recover, with the costs of collection, including legal recovery costs, being higher than the bill”.

The result is that councils are budgeting for large losses and potentially widespread non-payment. A series of freedom of information requests by False Economy, a campaigning group part-funded by trade unions, found more than 70 councils were resigned to seeing swaths of residents refusing to pay the tax.

Yes you read it correctly, we will have to find “an average” of £247 to fork out.

That’s from our JSA, already cut (not brought up to inflation levels).

Piggy Pickles, Eric Pickles the Minister  for Grinding the Faces of the Poor, is on the way to being the most hated man in Britain.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm