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Up To 40% Of Council Tax Levied On Low-Income Households Unpaid

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Local authorities were unable to collect up to 40% of council tax due from low-income households that had the charge imposed on them for the first time last year.

Council tax – set on average at £5 a week – has been levied on the poorest households in England since April last year as part of a cut in benefits. But such is the squeeze on household budgets, say campaigners, that the poor cannot afford to pay even these small sums.

The result has been widespread non-payment. Nationally, more than a fifth of council tax charged to working-age claimants was unpaid at the end of 2013-14.

The figures, obtained from responses from 140 councils to Freedom of Information requests by the anti-cuts group False Economy, reveal that some of the biggest towns and cities were left chasing millions of pounds from the poor.

Liverpool collected 61% of council tax due from the poor, leaving the city short by £3.5m. In Birmingham, the non-payment rate among the vulnerable was 30%, leaving the council seeking to recover £3m in lost revenue. Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield were all chasing more than £2m each in tax from those on the lowest incomes.

A report published last month by Child Poverty Action Group and the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust said almost 40% of Londoners affected by the cuts had been sent a court summons for council tax debts in 2013-14, with more than 15,000 claimants' debts referred to bailiffs.

In Haringey, north London, which collected 80% of the council tax due from benefit claimants, hundreds of households have been taken to court to recover unpaid tax – with non-payers threatened with bankruptcy, repossession and ultimately prison. [more at link]



http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/27/council-tax-low-income-households-unpaid

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The vulnerable are actually the invulnerable...what have the poor got to lose short of eviction and that isn't going to happen. Not rocket science why the poor choose to buy a packet of fags as opposed to pay the five quid council tax...they know they can get away with it.

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was talking to friend of the family recently (wealthy businessman, retired). He told me he never worries about parking his car, multiple times has received parking fines from council, just writes a pathetic letter saying he is an old age pensioner (with evidence) and that he cannot afford to pay it all at once from his penison can he pay in installments. They waive the fine without fail.

partner sold house last year after 2 years empty, when she phoned to cancel CT, it came up in conversation that she is a widow (true) and that she has a son at university. The person retrospectively registered her son as living at the house (he didnt) and gave her a full refund for 18 months. partner is a finance director, not exactly hard up.

councils arte full of bleeding heart liberals who will do anything to make a tory govt look bad.

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With poor collection rates and 20-25% going on council staff pensions it's no wonder council tax bills have doubled in 10 years.

Edited by Reck B

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With poor collection rates and 20-25% going on council staff pensions it's no wonder council tax bills have doubled in 10 years.

Well, they can just keep on increasing council tax because people cannot change councils and they are forced to pay it.

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Well, they can just keep on increasing council tax because people cannot change councils and they are forced to pay it.

But they can. Those who pay their own bills will seek to move to lower council tax areas. I have long reckoned that what is called white flight is in fact taxpayer flight.

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But they can. Those who pay their own bills will seek to move to lower council tax areas. I have long reckoned that what is called white flight is in fact taxpayer flight.

A mate of mine in the East End of London has simply decided not to pay any more as he reckons nobody else but him was paying in his street. A cockney lad who just got sick of getting the s***ty end of the stick has decided to go on strike against council tax, BT, leccy... everything in fact other than beer which he grudgingly pays for. I suggested sell up and go and live by the seaside somewhere cheap.

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But they can. Those who pay their own bills will seek to move to lower council tax areas. I have long reckoned that what is called white flight is in fact taxpayer flight.

Indeed. In the private rental market in London, the particular council tax borough is a significant marketing point (or at least used to be). For example, a property in Westminster can have a council tax rate nearly £1000 less than a similar property on the other side of the road in Brent.

These days, house prices and rents are so high, that council tax is now a rounding error in the affordability calculations.

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Local authorities were unable to collect up to 40% of council tax due from low-income households that had the charge imposed on them for the first time last year.

Mind you it seems that the only people able to avoid a charge being imposed on them without potential penalty are those running the councils with their ever increasing wages, golden pensions and golden handshakes.

No collection problems for them.

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Indeed. In the private rental market in London, the particular council tax borough is a significant marketing point (or at least used to be). For example, a property in Westminster can have a council tax rate nearly £1000 less than a similar property on the other side of the road in Brent.

These days, house prices and rents are so high, that council tax is now a rounding error in the affordability calculations.

There is always a focus on varying council tax levels - but people might be more amazed at the variation in fees and charges by borough. The figures are quite shocking e.g. for social care.

For example in Tower Hamlets any one assessed as in need gets home helps for free - even retired city bankers in Canary Wharf - as that is the council's policy. In other London boroughs - often with higher council tax - people can be asked to pay up to £350 a week for a home help/home care services.

I have no objection to people paying for their care - but how is it right that if you live in Bow you pay nothing irrespective of your wealth but if you live in Ilford you could pay up to £16,000 a year for the same thing. A rather shocking postcode lottery don't you think - and hitting the most vulnerable (i.e. the frail and disabled) in our community in different ways.

Its appalling frankly - and we should have a consistent national set of standards and charges for this surely?

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There is always a focus on varying council tax levels - but people might be more amazed at the variation in fees and charges by borough. The figures are quite shocking e.g. for social care.

For example in Tower Hamlets any one assessed as in need gets home helps for free - even retired city bankers in Canary Wharf - as that is the council's policy. In other London boroughs - often with higher council tax - people can be asked to pay up to £350 a week for a home help/home care services.

I have no objection to people paying for their care - but how is it right that if you live in Bow you pay nothing irrespective of your wealth but if you live in Ilford you could pay up to £16,000 a year for the same thing. A rather shocking postcode lottery don't you think - and hitting the most vulnerable (i.e. the frail and disabled) in our community in different ways.

Its appalling frankly - and we should have a consistent national set of standards and charges for this surely?

Local government means local democracy means local choice, surely?

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This charging of low income households is counter-productive.

I was a member of a local authority during the time the Community Charge (Poll Tax) was introduced, and everyone had to pay.

Ten years after its abolition, local councils were still trying to recover arrears from people who didn't have the money to pay. Local authorities would have written off the debts as enforcement was the most expensive option, but central government would not allow it.

It seems that nothing is ever learned.

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Local government means local democracy means local choice, surely?

Local government means local democracy means local choice, surely?

Really - keeping your council tax low by charging more to the frail elderly and disabled for their social care? Cos that is in effect what is happening.

I am all in favour of local choice over leisure centre provision, libraries and rubbish collection - but not over the level of social care etc provided to the most vulnerable in society where there should be more consistency surely? Because the current post code lottery in respect of both service provision and charges is crazy and grossly unfair.

If someone is unable to wash, go to the toilet and dress themselves - it shouldn't matter whether they live in Canary Wharf or Clacton in terms of the support they get and the govt charges they pay. Particularly when a lot of the difference is driven by govt funding allocations set nationally.

Edited by MARTINX9

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There really isn't a reason to pay if you have nothing. It can really only be enforced against people who have some kind of asset. A decent car is ideal.

The reason being that the Court bailiff's are pretty powerless. They have similar powers to a TV licence officer which is basically no power at all, so the system only works on idiots who volunteer to let them in, and even if let in, you can refuse to sign the walking possession agreement.

There is also a list of items as long as your arm, that they can't take, and quite obviously the well prepared will have the flat screen TV, Xbox etc secreted somewhere else for safekeeping (its difficult to levy distress on computers if they are used for work or study or a 'tool of the trade' and so on).

Council leaders and workers don't seem to have cottoned on that someone living in a Council flat, and being paid NMW, nearly half their income will go on rent/Council tax. Traditionally its been 25-30%. Our town council overlords will slowly have to adjust to the precarious economic reality of the many.

I actually agree that everyone should pay something, but from what I can see, the 'something' was set far too high.

If you are on JSA then £20 a month for CT is a lot. It could mean going without food for a week or two.

Edited by aSecureTenant

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There really isn't a reason to pay if you have nothing. It can really only be enforced against people who have some kind of asset. A decent car is ideal.

The reason being that the Court bailiff's are pretty powerless. They have similar powers to a TV licence officer which is basically no power at all, so the system only works on idiots who volunteer to let them in, and even if let in, you can refuse to sign the walking possession agreement.

There is also a list of items as long as your arm, that they can't take, and quite obviously the well prepared will have the flat screen TV, Xbox etc secreted somewhere else for safekeeping (its difficult to levy distress on computers if they are used for work or study or a 'tool of the trade' and so on).

Council leaders and workers don't seem to have cottoned on that someone living in a Council flat, and being paid NMW, nearly half their income will go on rent/Council tax. Traditionally its been 25-30%. Our town council overlords will slowly have to adjust to the precarious economic reality of the many.

I actually agree that everyone should pay something, but from what I can see, the 'something' was set far too high.

If you are on JSA then £20 a month for CT is a lot. It could mean going without food for a week or two.

Great post, says it all really. YouTube is full of advice videos on how to avoid and dismiss bailiffs from your doorstep, people are much more clued up than they used to be. Councils rely mainly on scaring people with the scary red ink on their demand letters, but if it is feed yourself or your children V council tax, then the councils are out of luck.

As I understand it in Scotland, if you once invite Bailiffs in, then they can break in a second time, but they are restricted in what they can take, cookers, fridges, computers and certain personal belongings etc. can`t be touched. Most people sent to prison as I understand it were inciting others not to pay, making it a different type of offence. Council tax is covered by civil law, not criminal, so the going to jail card is a bluff on the part of the collectors. You said it right when you said everyone should pay something, but the "something" has been set too high.

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Guest Jemmy Button

A mate of mine in the East End of London has simply decided not to pay any more as he reckons nobody else but him was paying in his street. A cockney lad who just got sick of getting the s***ty end of the stick has decided to go on strike against council tax, BT, leccy... everything in fact other than beer which he grudgingly pays for. I suggested sell up and go and live by the seaside somewhere cheap.

I applaud that mate of yours...

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Council tax is covered by civil law, not criminal, so the going to jail card is a bluff on the part of the collectors.

That's wrong. It's criminal law. Also you have no defence except to prove that you don't owe the money (due to a mistake or some such). The hearings in the Magistrates Court are a joke with the clerk running the show and the magistrates just following his say so. They do not even follow due process.

You will go to prison if you persistently refuse to pay.

Not that I am bothered - I like reading and good company so prison doesn't worry me. (The kind they send CT non payers to that is).

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That's wrong. It's criminal law. Also you have no defence except to prove that you don't owe the money (due to a mistake or some such). The hearings in the Magistrates Court are a joke with the clerk running the show and the magistrates just following his say so. They do not even follow due process.

You will go to prison if you persistently refuse to pay.

Not that I am bothered - I like reading and good company so prison doesn't worry me. (The kind they send CT non payers to that is).

If you are sent to prison, is the Council Tax still due?

Self Employed Youth had a good plan. Do volunteer work for in lieu of Council Tax (if I understood him right). I'd quite happily spend a few hours helping in out in one of excellent local parks which have now been rescued by volunteers and lotto money, since the local Council just decide to spend most of its income on pensions for staff. I already deliver leaflets for some of the groups.

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