Self-help support vs ravages of 'welfare reform'. Never attend anywhere official alone!
This blog currently focuses on national policy matters that impact upon KUWG members.
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group as a group focuses primarily on combating benefits injustices locally through advocacy in individuals' benefit claims, and demonstrations that emphasise that there is hope when we come together. We are more angry than frightened.
Guest blog piece by Council Tax protester Paul himself
regressive council tax and its draconian enforcement is profoundly
unfair on the benefit claimants, in work and unemployment, I have been
working with for the past 25 years.
the 4th March I filed my application to the High Court for judicial
review of the Tottenham Magistrates refusal to explain how they arrive
at £125 court costs each for 23,000 liability orders in the Borough of
Haringey and of , Haringey council's enforcement of court costs on
which they are making a profit.
also asked the Magistrates to explain to the High Court why they do not
issue stamped and sealed orders to debtors, for the liabilty orders,
like all other courts do when they make a decision.
asked the council what authority they have to enforce council tax
against me without a stamped and sealed order from the court - silence
from the council.
Haringey will now ask the court to take their name off my application but I have opposed that by telling the High Court.
write to clarify my application. There are two decisions under
challenge - the Council's decision to seek costs on a basis which
included overheads not properly regarded as 'actual costs', so is
making a profit, and the magistrates' decision to award them. The
Council is challenged in relation to the former".
Ward Legal Centre has supported my application to the Bar Pro-Bono Unit
for formal representation. I delivered it yesterday.
I am asking the High Court to order the Tottenham Magistrates and the Haringey Magistrates to explain themselves.
Magistrates give the council huge powers, including sending in the
bailiffs with fees in the £100s, to enforce the court costs on top of
the council tax arrears and on top the rent arrears resulting from
central government's caps on housing benefit. Often against the adult
JSA of £71.70 a week which will increase by 70 pence a week on the 6th
April 2013 Haringey Council has been enforcing 20% of the council tax
against benefit claimants; the first time benefits have been taxed since
the poll tax was abolished in 1991.
That is profoundly unfair on benefit claimants, in work and unemployment, I have been working with for the past 25 years.
By refusing to pay my
council tax I have put myself on the receiving end of the council tax
enforcement procedures. I hope to put a spotlight on this penal civil
process which catapults decent people into food banks and some times
Lucas (Chair of the Enforcement Law Reform Group comprising
representatives from Creditors, Local Authorities, Advice Sector and the
Bailiff Compaines on which I served up to April 2013) said
shortly after Hansard 24 July 2012 : shortly after Column GC277)
3 million liability orders are issued in respect of council tax each
year. Councils charge an average of about £100 a time for this, which is
£300 million a year that councils are charging for liability orders.
This charge is supposed to be based on the cost to councils of getting
the liability orders and the magistrates’ court orders together. It is
totally out of proportion to that cost. It is high time that the
Government did a little audit to check out what one or two councils are
charging and to see whether those costs are real".
Baroness Hanham, (Hansard
24 July 2012 : just before Column GC284) Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government stated,
in answer to a point raised by Lord Lucas,
the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992,
bailiffs can be used to recover unpaid council tax—that is, levy
distress—only where a magistrates’ court has made a liability order.
That was the point made by my noble friend Lord Lucas. The local
authority is allowed to apply for only reasonable costs, and those are
capped at £70. There will be further costs only after distress from the
bailiffs is levied."
there is a substantial difference between the Ministers reasonable
court costs capped at £70 and Haringey's £125. The £70 cap only applies
to Wales but it remains relevant because the procedures in England are
is asked to debate the speech made by Martin Luther King 50 Years ago
in Washington USA on the 28 August 1963 and to note that it can be
applied to circumstances in Britain in August 2013. He said “I have a
dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all
men are created equal.”