Key judgments on council benefit cuts
, Sunday 2 November 2014
Two judgments given in October will impact on all council-tax payers, magistratescourts, local authorities and governmental consultations of the public. On 29 October . On 10 December 2012 : “I am shocked that no alternative to hitting the fragileincomes of the poorest residents of Haringey [with council tax] … was included in the recent consultation.” Declaring that consultation unlawful, Justice Lord Wilson wrote: “The protest of the Rev Nicolson in his letter … was well directed.”
Alternatives to the council’s preferred options must now be put to the public in a future consultation. In all fairness there must be an alternative to local government taxation of benefits that are being shredded by central government (, 31 October).
On 7 Octoberof the £125 costs for a summons sought by Haringey council from 28,882 late or non-paying households in 2013-14. The costs are imposed by Tottenham magistrates against benefit incomes on top of inevitable arrears. I have deliberately allowed my council tax to become a civil debt. I was duly summoned to court, which allowed me the opportunity to ask the magistrates how they arrived at that £125. Haringey council has now withdrawn a summons against me, “as a matter of prudence during this period of on going litigation” and waived the £125.
The council has not replied to my letter inviting them to cease issuing all summons until it has reviewed the rationality and legality of that £125 it asks the magistrates to impose. Maybe all magistrates and councils in England and Wales should take notice.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty