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.

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


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


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


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


Haringey council urged not to seek costs for CT summons/liability orders until legality and rationality reviewed

Dear all,

I am showing below a letter I sent yesterday 10 October to Haringey council inviting them to cease seeking  orders from the magistrates for the costs of council tax summons and liability orders until they have reviewed the legality and rationality of the costs they seek.

It is important to recognise that the note of judgment or draft directions I have attached have not yet been approved by the court and are still in draft. Please be sure that is made clear to any bench of magistrates invited to consider them.

Anyone appearing in Haringey magistrates courts should make sure that the magistrates are aware that the legality, rationality and fairness of the costs orders are in doubt; and that the High Court has said that this is an important point of law for those subject to costs orders and local authorities.

Counsel suggests you say it would be unfair for magistrates to make any orders for costs pending clarification of the law.

With very best wishes,


To the London Borough of Haringey
​10th October 2014​

Dear Antonios Michael,

Nicolson draft order v2 (2)Nicolson – counsel’s note of judgmentNicolson skeleton final

I attach a draft note of the judgment of Mr Justice Green granting permission on 7 October ​2014 ​​​ to challenge the decision of the magistrates to award costs against me at the hearing of Haringey Council’s application against me for a council tax liability order on 2 August 2013.

This note has been prepared by my counsel from their notes, and sent to your counsel (Ms Henderson) for her approval/agreement before being submitted to the judge for his approval. I also attach a draft directions order which my counsel have sent yours for agreement and (for your convenience) a copy of the skeleton argument prepared by my counsel for this hearing.

Further to the permission hearing on 7 October 201​4​, it now appears to me that there must be serious doubts as to the legality of the costs orders sought by the Council in respect of unpaid council tax. The 2004 Council Minute referred to in the skeleton argument lodged on my behalf indicates that costs may have been set by reference to objectives of deterrence and funding other enforcement action. If so, having regard to the decision in Attfield v Barnet LBC [2013] EWHC 2-89 Admin) [2013 PTSR 1559, all such demands for costs are plainly ultra vires regulation 34 of the Council Tax (Administration & Enforcement) Regulations 1992. The costs provisions of these regulations are not set as a revenue raising measure, nor do they confer punitive or deterrent powers. They only permit costs to be sought and awarded by reference to costs actually and reasonably ‘incurred’.

Moreover, it does not appear that the Council either has produced or can produce an adequately reasoned justification for the levels of costs which it claims are incurred in issuing summons and seeking liability orders.

I also remain of the view that costs at the level sought cannot have been ‘reasonably’ or actually incurred. As I understand it, the process of generating summons is largely computerised, and staff time inputting data for any individual summons must be very low. I appreciate that the court fee and legal costs of attending court are different, but approximately 1,000 liability orders are processed by the magistrates court on any one day. Even if an independent barrister were employed at a cost of £1,000 a day (which is not the case), the legal costs per liability order over and above the court fee would be little over than £1 each.

In those circumstances, I would invite Haringey to cease seeking orders for costs until it has reviewed the legality and rationality of the orders which it seeks.

I would also ask you to draw this letter, the draft note of the judgment, and my counsel’s skeleton argument for the hearing on 7 October to the attention of any future bench of magistrates considering applications for liability orders. In my view, this is the right course bearing in mind the Council’s duty to the court, in circumstances where the overwhelming majority of respondents to applications for liability and costs orders will be unrepresented.

Please will you confirm receipt of this letter and your undertaking to do take these steps.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Nicolson

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road,
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at
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