CAB Report excellent on the miserable facts of local councils taxing benefits — room for impovement on helping vulnerable people.
CAB has produced a much needed factual report on the link between enforcing council tax arrears against benefits and the cuts in housing benefit, council tax benefit, and the additions of court and bailiff costs, which lead to individuals and families not eating or heating.
The report is however disappointing because, while expressing concern about the vulnerability of many benefit claimants required to pay council tax from April 2013, it does not mention DCLG, MOJ or DWP guidance about vulnerable people.
The most disappointing part of the CAB report is its bland assumption that the intrinsic unfairness of enforcing a tax against shredded benefit incomes will continue and only needs to be "improved". It must be stopped.
- The DCLG "Guidance to local councils on good practice in the collection of Council Tax arrears" which emphasises the need for local authorities to look after "vulnerable people" seven times (google "vulnerable")
- The DCLG guidance refers to the MOJ "Taking control of goods - national standards" which suggests a procedure when bailffs meet "vulnerable situations" see paragraphs 70-77.
- The assurances given for the DWP in Parliament by Lord Freud (Minister for Welfare Reform) that decisions makers will consider all relevant matters "including information about a claimant's health condition and financial circumstances. Hansard 25 Jan 2012 : just above Column 1062
- It should make stronger comments on local authorities exacerbating the damage done to health by enforcing a tax against benefit incomes provided by central government, which,
Council tax is being imposed in the most deprived wards where low birth-weight linked to poor maternal nutrition. In the same wards expectation of life is up to 20 years shorter than in the most wealthy wards. These are national scandals that the advice sector should broadcast.
- before April 2013, were intended to enable the poorest citizens to pay the rent, buy food, cook it and keep warm, clothes transport and other necessities.
- but which since April 2013 have been reduced below the level needed to sustain a healthy life.
- The most disappointing part of the CAB report is its bland assumption that the intrinsic unfairness of enforcing a tax against shredded benefit incomes will continue and only needs to be "improved". It must be stopped.
Note should be taken by Government and Local Authorities of the comment by the Supreme Court when they found unlawful Haringey Council's 2012 council tax reduction scheme consultation. "....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". 29th October 2014. See paragraph 29 and 22.
Rev Paul Nicolson 9 July 2016.
from the Reverend Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
No citizen without an affordable home and an
adequate income in work or unemployment.
93 Campbell Road, Tottenham, London N17 0BF, 0208 3765455, 07961 177889,