6000 Londoners hear Sadiq K & Zac G, London mayoral hopefuls, pledge a living rent at 1/3 average local earnings


Last night, 28th April.  I went to the CitizensUK London mayoral hustings with 6000 others in the Copper Box at the Olympic Park.

Among other pledges , Zac.G & Sadiq.K agreed to;

  1. ensure that all procurement from City Hall is only given to employers who pay the London Living Wage,
  2. ensure that there are more than 1,000 new community land trust homes. and that
  3. 50% of all new developments will be ‘truly affordable” (1/3 of average local income) – the living rent
  4. both agreed to a Rogue Landlord Taskforce ,
  5. to champion Citizenship and Refugee status for Londoners.
  6. Sadiq promised that all estate redevelopments will have a 100% replacement scheme , and will only go ahead with agreement of the tenants.

Their pledges are recorded on videos; the next step is to hold the new mayor to account for his pldeges and make them happen.

Rev Paul Nicolson

Tell NAO benefit sanctions enquiry ill health & hunger stem from enforcement of rent CT & fines while no cash to pay

Ill health stems from the impossibility of paying off existing debts while a one month or three month sanction is in force and the continuing enforcement of rent, council tax and fines through through draconian procedures, which were written on the assumption that there is some income available, when there is none.



I have sent the following information to the National Audit Office and will follow up with a more detailed submission, which will also use a selection of comments from this post TAP Facebook

There was a seminar in the House of Lords on the 12 January 2012 which I organised for and was chaired by Lord Ramsbotham (Crossbench), with the support of Lord Kirkwood (Lib Dem) and Lord McKenzie (Labour).  It was attended by Lord Freud, at which several of us from the NGOs reminded Lord Freud about the importance of the Wednesbury principles being applied when jobcentre officials are making decsions about benefit sanctions. I attach a note about the Wednesbury principles.


The upshot of that seminar was the following assurance given by Lord Freud to Peers on the 25th January 2012.

(Hansard 25 Jan 2012:Column 1061; 4.15) “We spoke about the Wednesbury principles at our seminar, and I can reassure noble Lords that the decision-making process is and will continue to be consistent with these fundamental principles of public law. The department strives to ensure that no decision is influenced by irrelevant factors and that decisionmakers act in a rational and fair manner, taking into account all relevant matters before exercising a discretion. For example, the primary legislation expressly sets out that a conditionality sanction applies only if there is no good reason for the failure. In determining whether there is such good reason, decision-makers will have to consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant’s health condition and financial circumstances”.

In a phone call to the NAO I mentioned a sanction case I supported. It is also on the TAP website (anonimised). I hope it gives them some leads about the impact of debt and no income on health. Sanctions export costs to the NHS and so to the taxpayer.

John Smith – Statement to the Magistrates at Highbury Corner.

Ill health stems from the impossibility of paying off existing debts while a one month or three month sanction is in force and the continuing enforcement of rent, council tax and fines through through draconian procedures, which were written on the assumption that there is some income available, when there is none.

Rev Paul Nicolson

Magistrates decide council tax liability orders in blocks of 1000s blinkered by accountants to austerity hardship

Magistrates decide council tax liability orders in blocks of 1000s blinkered by accountants to austerity hardship

I have now delivered my skeleton argument to the Civil Appeal court seeking permission to appeal. It could be a month before I get an answer. Meanwhile the full text of the Skeleton Argument can be found here;

Reverend Paul Nicolson v Grant Thornton appeal Skeleton Argument final

The heart of my argument is in these paragraphs.

I emailed Grant Thornton the accountants auditing the £125 council tax costs awarded by the Tottenham Magistrates to Haringey Council 21,877 times in 2013/14 as follows on the 3rd May 2015.

“Please will you ask the local GPs and NHS by how much their costs have increased due to the increasing impact of debt and austerity on the health of residents since their benefits were taxed in April 2013. See Royal College of Psychiatrists* and The Faculty of Public Health*. The council now has responsibility for public health and that means prevention of the costs to the taxpayer of ill health that accrues from the tax and its draconian enforcement.”  

To which can be added BMA, The Mental Health Foundation, The Faculty for Public Health, Mencap and Mind should this appeal go to trial.

Grant Thornton replied on the 5th May;

“I think it’s worth being very clear that in this case our remit as auditors only extends to whether the Council acted ultra vires . We have no remit over related public sector bodies nor to opine on the impact of this policy on the wellbeing of those required to pay council tax”.  

I was not asking him for his opinion but to take into account distinguished, powerful and relevant evidence about the impact of debts on mental health while considering the costs of the council, which add to the debts of poorest residents of the borough and are applied in bulk by the magistrates,  when auditing Haringey’s £125 costs. .

The High Court ignored the case I made about financial hardship and the health of debtors being taked into aaccount when the level of costs are being settled by the Magistrates and the Council and their Accountants Grant Thornton; hence the following paragraphs.

12. This case is about the council and the magistrates issuing summonses and liability orders in bulk to enforce council tax against many vulnerable people claiming statutory minimum incomes in work and unemployment, and the failure of all authorities involved to consider relevant matters related to the substantial change in the benefit claimants financial circumstances in April 2013, and robust evidence of a link between their debts and mental health.

13. I argue that the judgment of Lord Justice Hamblen (the judgement) 25th February 2016 and the decision of  Grant Thornton of the 12th October 2015 were wrong because they did not consider relevant evidence;

i. the evidence of financial hardship (paras 27 to 32 of skeleton argument)
ii. the evidence of a link between debt and mental health problems that should be taken into account when the magistrates are agreeing the costs they award in bulk to local authorities which are added to the arrears of late and non payers of council tax. (paras 17,18,19 & 20)
iii. the evidence of a substantial change in the financial circumstances of all benefit claimants in April 2013. (para 25 & 26)
iv. guidance about “vulnerable situations” issued by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Communities and Local Government (para 34 and PN1 appendix).
v. the judgement of the Supreme Court in Mosley v Haringey (para 23)
vi. the assurances given by the Minister for Welfare Reform to the House of Lords on the 25th January 2012 during the passage of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 about the application of the Wednesbury principles to include benefit claimants’ health and financial circumstances (para 20)

14. Neither magistrates nor the council can known the financial circumstances or the health of all the late or non payers when they summons late and non-paying residents in bulk and the magistrates award liability order costs in bulk to the council, but that is no reason for ignoring robust evidence that the financial circumstances and health of residents are put at risk by debts enforced against low incomes.

Council tax summons and liability orders decided in blocks of 1000s

The magistrates decided;

• 2,168 liability orders in bulk (10:361) on the 13th June 2013, when only 43 attended court,
• and a further 2017 in bulk on the same day, of whom only 48 attended court,
• or the 1160 awarded in bulk, when only 45 attended or on the 2nd August 2013 when the applicant was summoned.

15.      32,237 (10:361) summonses were issued by computer in 2013/14. Computers are not yet programmed to be aware of the dire circumstances of many late and non payers. All the summonses have written on them in red;(10:358)

ln most circumstances, you do not need to
attend court. See details overleaf and yellow
sheet. Please do not send correspondence
to the Magistrates’ Court.

Summons for 2014-15 council tax.

There are 1000s of cases dealt with in bulk by the magistrates whose opportunity to explain their financial circumstances to a council official during a visit to the court is actively discouraged by the council.

Rev Paul Nicolson

PS as a result of my intervention the 2015/16 summons cost have been reduced,  without considering financial hardship and health, from £125 to £102  and the liability order costs from £125 to £115; but there is no change to 2013/14 and 2014/15.  I am asking flor them all to be recalculated with all relevant evidence considered.


Civil disobedience led by Dr Gail Bradbrook Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett join the www.compassionate-revolution.net

I have signed this letter and will continue to refuse to pay my council tax, and with my appeal to the Appeal Court, on the grounds that it has been irrational since April 2013 for councils to tax the incomes provided by central government for survival and shelter, in a housing market creating ever more unaffordable rents,  and then enforce the tax by adding the councils’ costs to the inevitable arrears of their poorest residents. 

Solidarity – Paul Nicolson

o   Link to the video to post on social media, e.g. I’m joining the Golden Rule Tax Disobedience #taxdisobey because I want real democracy in the UK – join me! –https://goo.gl/U5RrbQ

o   Pledge address – it’s essential for as many folk as possible to pledge on the CR website, because we now have to get to 5,000 people! – this is where to pledge: https://www.compassionate-revolution.net/


The latest tax scandal is bringing the erosion of our democracy into ever sharper focus. Britain suffers under an enormous democratic deficit due to state capture by “free”-market neoliberal fundamentalism and its associated corporate and financial interests, in aggressive ascendancy since the 1970s. Notwithstanding the 2008 financial crisis, this capture of the state has remained unaddressed, with successive governments shamefully complicit in it. Despite copious corroborative research and endless petitioning and protesting, all we’ve seen is disingenuous hand-wringing and political evasion.

Our collusion with this apology for a “democracy” must stop. We, the citizenry, are therefore taking matters into our own hands – with a “Golden Rule Tax Disobedience” whose intention is grassroots mobilisation against systemic injustice, favouring far greater equality, shared and stable prosperity, enhanced quality of life and, most importantly, an environmentally sustainable future.

The evidential rationale for this action is overwhelming. Not least, £93bn of “corporate welfare” is given as handouts annually to businesses operating in our allegedly “free” market; and the government spends £26bn subsidising harmful fossil fuels, yet a mere £3.5bn subsidising renewables. “Free”-market fundamentalism has been an astonishing failure for the vast majority.

Our Golden Rule Tax Disobedience initiative asks citizens to withhold a small amount of tax (through VAT or their tax return – everyone can join in), and then donate it to conducive campaigning groups. This principled modelling of a redistributive ethos intends to shame our politicians into taking effective action.

Principled tax activism has a long and distinguished history in circumstances where the state has shown itself incapable of defending the public interest. With no serious attempt by government to correct Britain’s massive democratic deficit, our initiative is an idea whose time has come. We ask you to join with us in taking back power in order to create a fairer and more sustainable society.

Dr Gail Bradbrook Director, Compassionate Revolution
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett Co-authors of The Spirit Level
George Barda Social justice and Occupy campaigner, Compassionate Revolution
Leon Rosselson Writer/musician
David Drew Former Labour MP for Stroud
Polly Higgins Lawyer advocating for Ecocide Law
Joel Benjamin Debt Resistance UK and People vs PFI
Professor Andrew Samuels Analytical psychology, University of Essex
Professor Karín Lesnik-Oberstein Critical theorist
Rev Paul Nicolson Taxpayers Against Poverty
Dr Richard House Chartered psychologist, education campaigner, Stroud
Liam Barrington-Bush Co-founder, More Like People
Max Graef Broadcast engineer, company director
Andrea Halewood Chartered psychologist
Ben Jarlett Digital media consultant
Martin Large Publisher and author
Jojo Mehta Environmental campaigner
Beatrice Millar Steering group, Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility (PCSR)
Gabriel Millar Teacher, Stroud
Alice Murray Political activist and campaigner, Stroud
Aliyah Norrish Digital content associate
Mark Nurse NHS paramedic, Stroud
Councillor Brian Oosthuysen Gloucestershire
Maja Passchier Cellist and cello teacher
Hazel Raee Mobile digital champion, Isle of Skye
Skeena Rathor Movement therapist and teacher
Dr Ilana Mira Sluckin Paediatric doctor
Richard Wilson Director, OSCA
Matt Wimpress Company director

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Tax land: it cannot be put in a bank in Panama and we know where the wealthy live to collect the tax in the UK


Tax land: it cannot be put in a bank in Panama and we know where the wealthy live to collect the tax in the UK

There has never been a better time to write about Land Value tax because the wealthy cannot put their UK land into a bank in Panama and we know where they live to collect the tax in the UK.

Taxpayers Against Poverty has been campaigning for Land Value Tax (LVT) since we were founded by a letter the Guardian on the 16th February 2012.

It will “encourage” the four largest builders to use the 600,000 plots hoarded in their land banks to create homes or jobs to make a profit and pay the tax. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania website reports their very positive experience of LVT. It it also works well in Denmark, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

My colleague Fred Harrison of the Land Research Trust has expanded on his website on the positive effects of LVT.

It would be a progressive tax replacing inefficient and/or regressive council tax, business rates, stamp duty and inheritance tax.

I am still refusing to pay my council tax as an act of civil disobedience against a deeply unjust law.

Council tax is hitting the poorest ever harder because Osborne freezes, caps or cuts the benefits that have to pay the tax and rents go ever higher; the laws enforcing the council tax are brutal​,​ while the wealthy park their tax free money in overseas banks.

That has to stop because it makes benefit claimants hungry and ill, which increases the costs in the health service.

A single woman cannot buy a healthy diet cook it and keep warm on JSA of £73.10 a week leading​ to​ increased risks of poor maternal nutrition, low birthweight and mental health problems for their off spring

The biggest injustice in modern society is the difference in life expectancy. I was born in Kensington where the expectation of life is 88 years. Aged 83 I now live in Tottenham between two wards where the expectation of life is 71 years, a 17 year difference. Anyone round here born in the same year as me in 1932 died, on average, 12 years ago. ​Facts​ disgracefully ignored by central and local government.

fair-society-healthy-lives-executive-summary (7)

Haringey taxes benefits with council tax; Kensington and Chelsea do not.

It is crazily inefficient and oppressive for central government to provide benefit incomes for the survival and shelter of the poorest people in the UK while the local authorities take it away with council tax, then enforce the tax with court costs and bailiffs fees.

Rev Paul Nicolson