TAXATION OF £72.40 A WEEK JSA GROTESQUELY UNFAIR Christmas card Haringey Council to residents a council tax summons

The Christmas card from Haringey Council to residents – a council tax summons to Tottenham Magistrates court – protest on the Tuesday 6th January Apex House


The five Supreme Court judges commented in October 2014 on Haringey’s 2012 council tax consultation;

“Their income was already at a basic level and the effect of Haringey’s proposed scheme would be to reduce it even below that level and thus in all likelihood to cause real hardship, while sparing its more prosperous residents from making any contribution to the shortfall in government funding.”

There will be a protest outside Apex House, 820 Seven Sisters Road
Tottenham N15 5PQ against the taxation of benefits by London Councils from 9.30 to 11 on Tuesday 6th January.

The court hearings are on Wednesday 7th January but council officials have called late and non payers to Apex House on the Tuesday 6th January from 9.30am to “to discuss your circumstances and see if there is any more we can do to help you”.

Black Thursday, five days before the Christmas holiday. Yesterday Haringey Council;

1. sent 1000s of summons to Tottenham magistrates court on the 7th January, to residents who have not paid their 2014/15 council tax adding court costs of £125 to the arrears.

2. each summons contains threats of bailiffs, bankruptcy or prison to late and non payers.

3 .most of the residents will be working aged adults claiming benefits in work and unemployment; many will also be paying the bedroom tax.

4. the tax is levied on the back of a 2012 consultation by the council which the Supreme Court decided was illegal.

5. the £125 costs are being enforced by the Magistrates and the council while while their legality and rationality are under investigation by the High Court.

6. in 2012 Haringey councillors decided to tax the £72.40 a week adult unemployment with 20% of the council tax adding £125 court costs for late and non payers and to send in the bailiffs.

7. the coalition has frozen increases of that already inadequate £72.40 a week at 1% a year since 2011, while the local authorities tax it.

8. In 2013 the price of fruit was, in real terms, 15% greater than in 2007; bread had increased by 8%, poultry by 6% and vegetables by 5%. The price of eggs peaked over this period in 2010 at 124% of their 2007 cost; in 2013 the price of eggs was 11% higher than in 2007.

9. the bailiffs fees are charged to residents at £75 for administration, £235 for one or any number of visits and another £110 if they call to seize goods for sale to pay the arrears, court costs and the bailiffs fees.

10. an 86 pence per week increase in council tax would keep the 100% council tax benefit for benefit claimants. But the council boasts that council tax has not been increased for six years. That is not true. Working aged benefit claimants were taxed for the first time since the poll tax in 2013/14.

The five Supreme Court judges commented on Haringey’s 2012 consultation.

“Their income was already at a basic level and the effect of Haringey’s proposed scheme would be to reduce it even below that level and thus in all likelihood to cause real hardship, while sparing its more prosperous residents from making any contribution to the shortfall in government funding.”

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

UK reminds me my parents lived though Nazi occupied Netherlands families without heat light food scavenging refuse

My 2014 Christmas message to my MP – from Tom Voute a TAP supporter.

“I am reminded of what my parents lived though in 1944 – 45 in the Nazi occupied Netherlands: families reduced to having nothing, without heat, light and food in their home; people scavenging through refuse to try to find some thing edible, and so on.”

This year I really don’t feel like Christmas. I can’t bear the thought of being part if it. But I am socially obliged have grin and bear it, even to pretend I enjoy it, counting the minutes for this hypocritical feast to be over. The reason is that friends have emailed me two recent documents:

1) Feeding Britain: A strategy for zero hunger in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report of the All-Party. Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom


2) An Evidence Review for the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom. Compiled and written by Andrew Forsey, Secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom.

Document 2) is a summary of the evidence from which the conclusions and recommendations of document 1) are drawn. The findings in these reports are horrifying.

The UK is still one of the richest countries on Earth and yet thousands of people, through no fault of their own and a great many in work, have to undergo the regular humiliation of asking for emergency food in charitable food banks. The reports make absolutely clear that in general the cause is poverty and living conditions caused by poverty. On page 8 of “Feeding Britain” is the statement:

“Let us therefore begin by stating the blindingly obvious. An individual is in danger of going hungry when they do not have enough money to buy enough food as their body requires. There are people in this very position right now in this country.”

When people who are already poor are suddenly deprived of regular income, e.g. though unemployment or other reasons why they have to rely on the benefits system, they have no reserves and they immediately experience acute hardship. The rock-solid evidence collected for these reports shows that delays in benefits processing some by design, some though incompetence and inefficiency, compounded by a capricious and arbitrarily administered sanctions system, are a major contributor to the large scale increase of hunger in this country.

I know that I have been very lucky. Every day of my life (and I am now 65) I have known where my next meal is coming from. But I was not born in this country and reading some of the evidence collected for these reports, I am reminded of what my parents lived though in 1944 – 45 in the Nazi occupied Netherlands: families reduced to having nothing, without heat, light and food in their home; people scavenging through refuse to try to find some thing edible, and so on. About 4.5 million people were affected

But this is the UK in 2014, a rich country, and now literally the same things are now happening here to many people. A number of submissions to the reports outlined how people had become so hungry that they resort, though sheer desperation, to stealing essential goods or scavenging through bins and skips behind food outlets, including parents and children.

Others stated that families cannot cook the food they collect from a food bank when they get home because they have no cash to put in the pay as you go utility meters. The number of officially recorded medical primary and secondary diagnoses of malnutrition in England has risen from 3,161 in 2008 -2009 to 5,499 last year.

On page 17 the Report’s summary of evidence states “ (The) data would indicate that the number of people in this country who are at risk of going hungry may be in the region of four million.” I.e. hunger is beginning to affect people here on a similar scale as the early stages of the 1944-45 Dutch famine. The difference is of course that here the hungry are a minority, dispersed amongst the well-fed majority.

How could this possibly have come about? This country has easily enough food and other resources to enable everybody to have an adequate minimum standard of nutrition and generally adequate living conditions. We know from the thousands of volunteers who donate their time to run food banks and the millions of people who make donations to them that the British people are generally caring and compassionate by nature and didn’t want this to happen.

I also know that you and your government have been in power for almost five years and decided to let this situation develop without doing anything about it and callously and irresponsibly refused to collect the data and to compile the statistic on hunger in this country, so that this had to be done through private initiatives. You have adopted policies, as the reports make abundantly clear, which made the situation worse, and for ideological reasons even refused European Union aid to help the hungry.

In the spring of 1945 my country was not so fussy when very low flying RAF bombers– who couldn’t be sure that they would not be shot at – dropped British emergency food aid and saved many thousands of lives. We were just grateful and still are to this day.

When I was young I have seen perfectly normal, sane and balanced men and women break down and burst into tears when they had cause to relive memories of those events. This is one of the things hunger can do to people.

There is no objective reason why anybody should go hungry in this country. I really don’t get it. Why do you hate the poor, the vulnerable, those who are badly paid in insecure jobs, those exploited by landlords so that they don’t have enough to live on, those unreasonably persecuted by sanctions and inadequate and delayed benefit payments, the unemployed, those who genuinely cannot work, and all their children? What have they ever done to you? Please explain it to me. Why do you hate these people so much?

TAP Supporter Tom Voûte, Purley, Surrey

Sanctions stop income, cancel housing benefit & add rent arrears to hunger; a totally disporportionate punishment




Sanctions cancel housing and council tax benefits and add debt to hunger – a totally disporportionate punishment


The All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into hunger and food poverty in the United Kingdom has rightly highlighted the damage done to benefit claimants by the unfair application of sanctions. It goes even deeper than that. There is not one sanction in the present system which is fair because they not only stop JSA but the jobcentre computer sends a message to the local authority computer to stop housing benefit too.

I am helping John Smith a single and unemployed adult aged about 40.(name changed) He has a history of depression. His JSA is stopped for three months for turning up for an interview a day late. He has a breakdown and enters nine weeks psychotherapy. When the sanction ends his JSA of £72.40 a week is restored. He is unaware his housing benefit has been stopped so creating rent arrears, which the local authority now starts enforcing by demanding £100 payment and £50 every two weeks with an eviction notice.

Then the bailiffs call at 7.30 in the morning threatening to seize goods if he does not pay £435 cash for a TV licence evasion fine plus court costs and bailiffs fees.

In 2013 the quasi judicial sanction process handed down 900,000 totally disproportionate punishments 140,000 of which were overturned on appeal. Lord Freud assured the House of Lords that jobcentre decision makers would always take account of relevant facts, discount irrelevant facts and be rational; well they never bothered to inquire into John Smith’s history of depression.

Rev Paul Nicolson
London N17

The Tablet is the international catholic weekly – PN

Crucial details about inadequate benefit incomes left out of the report on hunger and food poverty


TAP submitted evidence to the ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP ON HUNGER AND FOOD POVERTY  (our evidence) of inadequate income levels, rent and council tax debts, sanctions and the savings from reducing poverty related illness. Michael Shaw included a paper on the role of small holding in reducing food poverty.

I have now read the powerful and substantial summary of evidence provided by Andrew Forsey the secretary of the enquiry.

​Our member Micheal Shaw has been quoted on page 90 of the  summary​​. Alan Wheatley and I, with Michael, are on the list of ​organisations that submitted evidence under Taxpayers Against Poverty on page 111. ​TAP also has a mention ​under a description of the problems created by council tax on page 64 .

This ​is an ​absolutely necessary report ​which ​highlights the ​scandal of hunger and food poverty in the UK ​ imposing innocent suffering on decent people thruogh a chaotic benefit system.

​Its shameful message would have been all the more powerful if it ha​d included;
  1. details of the totally  inadequate adult unemployment benefits
  2. and an estimate of the savings from reducing the cost of poverty related ill health and educational underachievement to impoverished households, employers, NHS  and the economy at large.

Any government elected after the May 2015 election must address key structural issues raised by the APPG enquiry into hunger and food poverty and accept the blindingly obvious statement on page 4 of the report that people are “in danger of going hungry when they do not have enough money to buy enough food as their body requires”.

But the report’s very powerful summary of evidence did not include vital relevant facts​, which were submitted by TAP​.

There were 4.1 million adult claimants of unemployment benefits in May 2014. They are paid up to £57.35 a week aged 18 to 25 and £72.40 a week aged 25 or over, including the disabled for at least the 13 weeks ​of ​assessment. Benefits are added for each child.

ben01nov2014_tcm77-381292 (3) – key out of work benefits

People on such low incomes are in danger of hunger and food poverty when the ​rising ​weekly cost of a healthy diet competes with, or is overwhelmed by, the rising prices of transport and utilities, rent and council tax arrears.

Cheap, filling and fattening food contribute to obesity, poor maternal nutrition to low birthweight  leading to mentally and physically sick babies and​ debts to mental health problems

​They all add to the costs of the health and education services and so to  the taxpayers.
The enquiry has ignored the evidence of the  billion ​p0und ​cost​s​ to households, employers and the economy at large of mental health problems stemming from the stress of austerity imposed on inadequate incomes.

The enquiry was in a position to provide  an estimate of the savings to the tax peyers from reducing poverty related ​ill health and educational underachievement but ducked it.
Rev Paul Ni colson



Every MP over the passed 30 years should express remorse for allowing hunger and food poverty to take root in Britain


IN 1985 AND 2014.

The Archbishop has launched a report on hunger and food poverty. It should make every MP who sat in the Westminster Parliament over the last 30 years express some remorse about allowing hunger and food poverty to take root in Britain while national wealth has increased from £723 billion to £1,533 billion.

Another Archbishop launched the 1985 Faith in the City Report. It was braver. They wrote “Politicians may well ask: ‘do you really believe that those in work would be prepared to make real financial sacrifices to help those in poverty’. We believe that they would” (para 9.96).

The new report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty makes vital recommendations about the delivery of benefits, sanctions, debt, utilities and the reduction of food waste. It fails to recommend action on income inequality, profiteering landlords charging high rents in housing market in short supply, the taxation of benefits with council tax and its draconian enforcement or increasing the local and national taxation of the more prosperous residents of the UK to tackle hunger and food poverty.

Perhaps they are leaving it to the party manifestos to address these issues in the light of the scandal of the hunger they have necessarily revealed. Breath is not being held.

Rev Paul Nicolson.