HARINGEY COUNCIL LOSES TO LOCAL CAMPAIGNERS IN SUPREME COURT BATTLE ABOUT 2012 COUNCIL TAX CONSULTATION.

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Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
07961177889 – 02083765455

HARINGEY COUNCIL LOSES TO LOCAL CAMPAIGNERS IN SUPREME COURT BATTLE ABOUT 2012 COUNCIL TAX CONSULTATION.

The Supreme Court has unanimously allowed the appeal against Haringey Council’s 2012 council tax consultation and declared it unlawful. However they have not ordered the council to undertake take a fresh consultation.

“This is a powerful win for local campaigners who opposed the taxation of benefits by Haringey Council. The council is taxing the lowest benefits that are needed for food, domestic fuel and shelter. The judgement leaves the council free to re-consult all the residents about whether council tax should be increased by an average of 86 pence a week to restore the 100% council tax benefit for the poorest residents. Alex Rook of the lawyers Irwin Mitchell and I believe that should now happen” said The Rev Paul Nicolson.

On the 7th October I was given leave in the High Court to seek a judicial review of the £125 costs imposed by Tottenham Magistrates at the request of Haringey council on late and non payers of council tax 1000s at a time whatever their means.  National and local governments have ignored  the oppressive  impact of council tax and its enforcement.

The judgment of the five Supreme Court Judges says “the purported consultation was premised on the assumption that the shortfall would be met by a reduction in council tax relief and no other option was presented”.

I am delighted that my written objections in the “purported” consultation about Haringey’s scheme to tax benefits are quoted in their judgement.

“One of the 36 letters and emails was an email sent to Haringey by The Reverend Paul Nicolson, a prominent anti-poverty campaigner, on 29 October 2012.
He wrote:

“I write to oppose your proposals on the grounds that the
25,560 households who now pay no council tax will not be able
to pay 20%, or around £300 pa, from ApriI2013 … [B]enefits
are paid… to our poorest fellow citizens to provide the
necessities of life; they are already inadequate … ”

On 6 November 2012 Haringey responded:

“We have asked for comments around protecting groups in
addition to Pensioners, however protecting additional groups
will have an impact on the remaining recipients who will have
to pay a higher amount to cover the shortfall. Your email below
is unclear as to which group you are suggesting we protect and
how we then make up the shortfall.”

In his response dated 7 November 2012 The Rev. Nicolson observed:

“I am aware that central government has cut its council tax
benefit grant to … Haringey and all other councils by 10.
Other councils are absorbing the cut and continuing [to]
implement the current CT benefit scheme. Why cannot
Haringey do the same? There is no consultation taking place
about that central issue.”

On 10 December 2012, following the end of the consultation, The Rev. Nicolson wrote a letter of protest to the Leader of Haringey Council, which ended as follows:

“I am shocked that no alternative to hitting the fragile incomes
of the poorest residents of Haringey … was included in the
recent consultation.”

The protest of the Rev Nicolson in his letter of the 10th December 2012 was well directed”
Page 11

http://supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2013_0116_PressSummary.pdf

SUPREME COURT DECISION ON HARINGEY COUNCIL’S 2012 COUNCIL TAX CONSULTATION DUE WEDNESDAY 29 OCT case started by TAP

SUPREME COURT DECISION ABOUT HARINGEY COUNCIL’S 2012 COUNCIL TAX CONSULTATION DUE ON WEDNESDAY 29TH OCTOBER .

This case was kicked off by a telephone call to lawyers from The Rev Paul Nicolson, a resident of Haringey, on behalf of Taxpayers Against Poverty. I was concerned that one of the alternatives to the draft scheme, about which the consultation took place, did not include was the option of increasing the average band D by 86 pence a week which would have kept the 100% benefit for low income households in work and unemployment.

We now have the unfair tax 20% of tax on benefits, which takes away with one hand what has been given with the other, on top of the 1% freeze, the bedroom tax, cuts in housing benefit, increasing rents and the escalating prices of food and domestic fuel.

On top of that imposition on the lowest incomes in the borough the Magistrates imposed £125 costs on 27,882 households in 2013/14 the first year benefits were taxed. The bailiffs then add to the impossible debts a minimum of £75 adding another £235 for a visit.

Those £125 costs are now subject to judicial review in Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates & The Borough of Haringey. Leave for judicial review was given by Judge Green on the 7th October.

NB. the council tax reduction scheme (CTRS) devised by local authorities replaced the council tax benefit (CTB) administered by central government in the Local Government Finance Act 2012.

In Haringey 20% of council tax was imposed on benefit claimants in work and unemployment from April 201

Article from “Local Government Lawyer”

Supreme Court to hand down key ruling next week on consultations
Thursday, 23 October 2014 14:07
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down next week (29 October) a key ruling on the proper approach to consultations.The case of R (on the application of Moseley (in substitution of Stirling) v London Borough of Haringey specifically considered consultations conducted under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 in respect of proposed ‘council tax reduction schemes. These schemes were introduced to replace council tax benefit.The appeal considered whether a fair consultation required that consultees be informed not just of the proposals of the local authority, but also of the reasons for the proposals.It also considered whether consultees should be given sufficient information to enable them to critically examine the thinking that led to the proposals.

The case arose out of Haringey’s consultation upon its council tax reduction scheme. The Government subsequently announced a Transitional Grant Scheme (TGS) but the authority adopted its council tax reduction scheme without re-consultation.

Haringey argued that the Transitional Grant Scheme did not affect the draft scheme.

The local authority won in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in February 2013.

Before the Supreme Court, the appellant argued that the consultation process was unfair and unlawful because:

  • Consultees had not been provided with sufficient information to understand that there were alternatives to the draft scheme; and
  • Haringey should have re-consulted when the Transitional Grant Scheme was announced.

A five-justice panel of the Supreme Court – comprising Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson and Lord Reed – heard the case on 19 June.

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20533%3Asupreme-court-to-hand-down-key-ruling-next-week-on-consultations&catid=59&Itemid=27

Update – Haringey council urged not to seek costs for CT summons/liability orders – 127 cases adjourned in Folkstone

This post gives the text of a letter I wrote to Haringey Council on the 10th October to invite them to cease seeking costs for summons and liability orders until they have been reviewed as ordered by Judge Green when giving me permission for judicial review.

Letter inviting Haringey Council to cease seeking orders for costs for council tax summons and liability orders until it has reviewed the legality and rationality of the orders it seeks.

Word about that has traveled at least as far as Folkstone from where I have received the following report.

“I informed the Magistrates of Revd Nicolson’s case and asked for a full adjournment until this had been dealt with by the high court. Used the uncertain argument and informed them it applied to everyone after, and they too should not be heard. Magistrates agreed. So an announcement was made to those waiting in the Foyer and after hearing a cheer went up and a mad rush for the entrance occured. All in all 127 people off the hook for now”.
Meanwhile Ros WynneJones of the Daily Mirror has written up the case in her REAL BRITAIN page and I have followed us with a letter.

Daily Mirror – REAL BRITAIN 15 10 14 AND MADEUTHINK 17 10 14

Spurs bosses don’t want corporate customers walking through council estate Haringey council plan demolition of estate

365 DAYS A YEAR OF COMMUNITY LIFE AND SUCCESSFUL EMPLOYMENT SACRIFICED FOR 24 HOME GAMES IN A FOOTBALL SEASON.

Tottenham Hotspur management have let it be known that they do not want their corporate customers walking through a council estate from White Hart Lane station to their new football stadium.

Haringey council, tugging their forelocks to corporate power, money and snobbery, are therefore planning to demolish the Tottenham Love Lane council estate and the premises of 60 nearby successful businesses.

365 days a year of community life and successful businesses are to be sacrificed for 24 home games in a football season.

The right solution is to tidy up and refurbish Love Lane council estate – for which Tottenham Hotspur Plc should pay.

Rev Paul Nicolson – concerned resident of Tottenham living near Love Lane estate and Spurs old and new stadium.

Church of England both part of the problem of UK poverty and could be part of the solution

LETTER IN THE GUARDIAN 14TH OCTOBER 2014

Owen Jones’s tale of woe about rootless, soulless political parties (Opinion, 13 October) needs a comment about a national institution that should be providing roots and soul to political thinking: the Church of England, which, despite all its faults, I love. We are both part of the problem and could be part of the solution by our input to a debate about a political system that is not serving the needs of all UK citizens. We are locked into and are beneficiaries of the extreme free-market politics and economics that have infected a rootless and soulless parliament. It has required low- and middle-income households to carry the burden of austerity.

As a church we tinker with staffing food banks and credit unions when what is needed is noisy, sustained and effective lobbying, drawing the attention of comfortable households to the innocent suffering of a substantial minority of the UK population in hunger, substandard housing, unmanageable debts, rent and council tax arrears. Nowhere is that noisy lobbying more absent than in London, where the bishops and archdeacons of the diocese of London, are all but silent in the face of the oppression of the poorest tenants by the state.

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/12/parties-ukip-british-politics

 

LETTER IN THE TIMES – Monday 13th October 2014

Mr Parris said politicians “know what to do” and quoted Jean-Claude Juncker: “They just don’t know how to get re-elected when they have done it.” 

The major parties have shielded the comfortable pensioners, homeowners, landlords and property speculators — in short those more likely to vote — from the effects of the 2008 crash, leaving those on low and middle incomes, mostly living in rented property or unable to buy, to carry the burden.

Politicians know what to do: cap rents and reduce the value of property. But that is what not to do to get elected.

The Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty