ZACCHAEUS 2000 TRUST AND CHILD POVERTY ACTION GROUP REPORT ON “NEW POLL TAX”. TOO POOR TO PAY http://z2k.org/
ZACCHAEUS 2000 TRUST AND CHILD POVERTY ACTION GROUP REPORT ON “NEW POLL TAX”.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This report has demonstrated that the government’s abolition of council tax benefit, and the attached 10 per cent funding cut, is continuing to cause real financial hardship for Londoners and increase pressure on local authorities.
The majority of London boroughs have established council tax support schemes which require their poorest residents to pay more council tax than before. These minimum payment schemes have pushed tens of thousands of low-income Londoners, previously deemed too poor to pay, deeper into poverty. Unable to meet the payments, they find themselves subject to court summonses, enforcement costs and even intimidating bailiffs. For these people, council tax benefit localisation arguably amounts to a new poll tax.
Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 2012 requires the Secretary of State to make provision for an independent review of all council tax reduction schemes made under the Act. This review should consider the schemes’ effectiveness, efficiency, fairness and transparency, and their impact on the localism agenda. It should also make recommendations as to whether such schemes should be brought within universal credit. The review is supposed to take place within three years of the Act coming into effect. Following its inquiry into the abolition of council tax benefit in early 2014, the Public Accounts Committee concluded that the Department for Communities and Local Government:
“must set out a timetable and terms of reference for an independent review. It must also establish and collect the information the review will need, both to answer the questions set by legislation and to assess the extent to which the Department has met its policy objectives for this reform.”
Despite saying that it agrees with this recommendation, the government has so far failed to provide any meaningful information about the review. In response to a parliamentary question in March 2015, all the Minister would say was that:
“the Department is currently working with the Council Tax Partnership Forum and local authorities to identify appropriate and proportionate data for the independent three-year review of the local council tax support policy. The timetable, coverage, process for data collection and detailed terms of reference for the review will be agreed and published in due course.”
We are extremely concerned by the government’s refusal to make available the timetable and terms of reference for the review. Given that the Act was granted Royal Assent on 31 October 2012, we believe ministers should urgently make clear who will be conducting the review, as well as its terms of reference and timetable, including the publication date.
It is also essential that ministers clarify what data has been collected so far and what additional information is being sought, so that those who wish to submit evidence have a reasonable period in which to collate it.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
CPAG and Z2K argue that localised council tax support should be replaced with a national, fully funded system of council tax benefit, as previously existed. In the meantime, we urge the government to mitigate the impact of this policy by:
- Restoring the 100 per cent subsidy for local council tax support schemes in 2015/16. This should be ring-fenced to be spent on council tax support.
In lieu of the 100 per cent subsidy’s being reintroduced, we ask the government to do the following:Ensure funding for council tax support is not cut further, by ringfencing or, at a minimum, clearly earmarking funding that is intended for council tax support.
- Amend the Local Government Finance Act to enable local authorities to reduce the 25 per cent single person discount to 20 per cent as recommended by the Local Government Association.
- Provide clarity on long-term funding levels for schemes until 2020
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Although central government is ultimately responsible for this policy, local authorities also have the opportunity to mitigate the negative impacts on their residents.
- We urge London boroughs to:Reinstate 100 per cent support for their poorest residents, following the lead of six London authorities (City of London, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton, Tower Hamlets and Westminster).
However, we recognise the intense pressure on councils’ budgets, and this report demonstrates that there are a number of other ways in which their schemes could be improved and the worst impacts mitigated. They include the following:
- Reduce the minimum payment to a more affordable level or, at the least, not increase or introduce a minimum payment.
- Introduce or broaden exemptions to include those in receipt of disability living allowance, personal independence payment, income support and employment and support allowance, as well as claimants affected by aspects of welfare reform, such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and the overall benefit cap.
- Those local authorities that have not created a hardship fund for claimants struggling to pay should consider doing so.
- These funds should be proactively advertised to claimants and eligibility should be clearly stated.
- Local authorities that maintain minimum payment schemes should take into account the potential vulnerability of council tax support claimants and adopt a sensitive approach to collection.
- Introduce a vetting stage prior to issuing a court summons where being in receipt of council tax support would be considered cause for further engagement with the claimant.
- Waive court costs for council tax support cases.
- Refrain from using bailiffs for collection in council tax support cases.
- Work with local authorities that have achieved significant reductions in numbers of court summonses and use of bailiffs, in order to share best practice.
Local authorities need to continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of their schemes, and we are particularly concerned that a number of boroughs no longer collect information on the impact of charges on council tax support recipients.
- Local authorities should continue to, or start to, gather information on the impact of charges on people receiving council tax support.
- This information should inform annual scrutiny reviews of council tax support schemes by local councillors, which should also include feedback from residents and organisations working with vulnerable residents
Should the state ensure minimum income standards that do not leave men, and children hungry? YES & YES & YES again
Should the state ensure minimum income standards that do not leave men, women & children hungry?
YES & YES & YES again & again
TWO CHALLENGES TO THE GOVERNMENT
FROM THE CHURCHES
AND EARLY DAY MOTION 344
1. A LETTER IN THE CHURCH TIMES
From the Revd Paul Nicolson and Canon Nicholas Sagovsky.
Sir, — A group of us met in Clare College, Cambridge, in the early 1990s, agonising about the impact of the poll tax on the poorest citizens.
It was hitting the income that they needed to pay for food, cook it, keep warm, buy clothes, use public transport, and for other necessities. We wondered what published research was informing government thinking about the minimum income needed for healthy living. Enquiries around Whitehall revealed the answer to be “None.”
In 1997, the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust commissioned the minimum- income-standards research that informed the identification of the London Living Wage. Since then, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has also commissioned research that is based on what members of the public think is enough money to live on to maintain a socially acceptable quality of life. It has inspired the spread of robustly researched living wages round the UK.
Now the Chancellor has renamed the national minimum wage as an enforceable living wage — without the essential ingredient of any research into the actual weekly cost of meeting human needs.
That raises a vital point of principle. Does the state have a responsibility for ensuring that every citizen has the minimum income in work or unemployment to meet need and maintain a healthy life style?
At an economic level, with education and Health Service free at the point of delivery, the taxpayer loses money when incomes are so low that cases of malnutrition and debt-related illness flood GPs’ surgeries.
At the moral level, does loving my neighbour include ensuring that my taxes support an income for all which is adequate for basic human needs?
We know that when incomes are inadequate this has a terrible impact on maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy, on consequent low birth weight, and on children who grow up in poverty.
Nutritionists at the British Nutrition Foundation report: “Despite shortages the British population in a time of rationing ended the 1939/45 war fitter and healthier than ever.” In that time of crisis, a national government ensured that everyone could buy enough healthy food.
Taxpayers Against Poverty
Whitelands Professorial Fellow
2. THE TABLET,
THE INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC WEEKLY
HAS A VERY WELL INFORMED
ON LINE OF IDS’s ATTEMPTS TO JUSTIFY HIS POLICIES
3. EARLY DAY MOTION 344.
– AN EARLY DAY MOTION IS AN EXPRESSION OF OPINION TABLED IN THE HOUSE O F COMMONS BY AN MP OR SEVERAL MPS - OTHER MPS CAN SIGN UP –
PLEASE ALERT YOUR MP TO SIGN UP
Apologies to those who have seen point three before; one response was “Just when you think things couldn’t get worse they do”.
HANDBOOK ON HUMANITY 1; Anatomy of a killing cult. Fred Harrison ISBN 978-0-9933398-0-6 A review by Rev Paul Nicolson
HANDBOOK ON HUMANITY 1;
Anatomy of a killing cult.
Fred Harrison ISBN 978-0-9933398-0-6
A review by Rev Paul Nicolson
The chapter called “The Killing Cult” should be read, marked and learnt by every MP, Peer and Bishop.
While the government was planning to airbrush the Child Poverty Act 2010 in to the Life Chances Act 2010 Fred Harrison was proving that
Page 83. “Britain is founded on a set of laws and financial policies that predetermine the life chances of a new generation”.
“Page 79″; “Poverty is treated as a pathology largely attributable to the failing of the individual. It is, in fact, a pathology embedded in a population by a culture that breeds poverty as a by-product. The killing begins with the cells that constitute the limbic brain of new born babies. That is the part of the brain that that regulates emotions like love.”
Independently I work with the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human nutrition whose director Professor Michael Crawford researches the dangers of poor maternal nutrition; he writes Low birthweight associated with fetal growth restriction is the strongest predictor of poor learning ability, school performance, behavioural disorders and crime.
The set of laws and policies that predetermine life chances started among the robber barons of the Magna Carta.
In 1330 Henry de Burghersh , then Bishop of Lincoln from 1320 – 1340 and second son of a Baron, was given the freehold of his manor in Fingest, one of the six Parishes in the Hambleden Valley near Henley on Thames, by the Abbot of St Albans. I was a Vicar there living in near-by Turville from 1982 to 1999.
The Bishop had quarreled with the Abbot of St Albans over whom he claimed jurisdiction. He gave that up in exchange for the Manor of Fingest. He was also given licence to enclose his wood with the adjoining 300 acres of land. This encroachment on the common lands of the people of Fingest was the cause of much complaint and hunger.
It is said that after his death in 1343 the Bishop appeared as a huntsman dressed in Lincoln green. The apparition said he was doomed to act perpetually as keeper of the land until restitution was made as a penance for the suffering which his land grabbing had caused. He begged that word might be sent to the Canons at Lincoln Cathedral. One of them was accordingly dispatched to Fingest, and under his directions the hedges were broken down, the ditches filled up, and, it is to be hoped, the ghost laid.
This story is possibly founded on fact. From evidence given regarding the assessment of Fingest for taxation about this date the bishop certainly did enclose common land. In the late 18th century traces of high banks and a deep ditch known as the Park Ditch were still to be seen, while parts within the enclosure were still common. They were soon to be enclosed too. The land grab became a head long rush in the 17th century when peasants were turned into vagabonds.
Harrison spells out how that theft from the people continued at an ever increasing pace to the present day. There is no sign of it being changed until the bust of all busts brings politicians to their senses; that is inevitable he says and not long arriving.
The Bishop deprived the people of Fingest of their land and income acting like the aggressive British aristocracy who enshrined their land grabbing powers in the Magna Carter in 1215. There are, however, no known records of aristocrats dressed in green as huntsmen haunting their enclosures in perpetuity as a penance.
Before Magna Carta the King was supposed to be responsible for the welfare of all his people; they worked for their sustenance on the common land. Fred Harrison tells us in Magna Carta “the main burden of government expenses was shifted from land to personal property hence to the whole population without any regard to their holding of land”. The Barons grabbed the land and made the people pay taxes. That he claims was the beginning of the “tragic condition of Britain today”.
Powerful people become rent seekers buying land which exists for the public good of everyone but privatising the income and the capital gain. Regrettably the churches are still active participants in this injustice.
He cites Hong Kong as an example of a fairer way to fund those services common to all people. “The territory was acquired from China by Britain on a lease; it had to be rented to the users at 5%. Consequently the costs of the administration were found from the rents that merchants were happy to pay to locate their businesses on the island. So taxes were low and the people of Hong Kong had more to spend in their pockets. Denmark introduced the land lax in the early 20th Century and is now the No 1 happiest nation on earth. Taiwan introduced an urban land value tax in 1954 and became the first Asian Tiger.
Fred Harrison recounts the story of George Warde Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England from 1821 to 1872. He wrote a convincing treatise called Taxation and the Promotion of Human Happiness suggesting that taxes could be abolished in lieu of rents paid by land owners. In other words the “Government would gain a large income in the character of co-owner of the land”. But this was such an explosive thought that he hid report and championed the landlords. It was not found until 2009 in the archives of a Kent Library.
As a Liberal Member of Parliament, Winston Churchill with Lloyd George, campaigned to reform the tax system. He wanted new charges on the rents that flowed into the pockets of landowners. The People’s budget of 1909 followed the large Liberal majority won in the election of 1906. But the landlords prevented the people of Britain reclaiming their ancient rights in the courts and in the House of Lords. The powerful land grabbers won again.
Harrison describes how a culture of cheating evolved the capacity to shroud in mystery the social nature of rent linked to land and how its privatisation damages our lives. As I write the government has introduced a bill clauses of which will change the name of the Child Poverty Act 2010 to the Life Chances Act 2010 and remove income from the measurement of child poverty. “The Predetermined Life Chances Act 2010″ is nearer the truth.
I now live in Tottenham where the renters are in a majority of 58% of householders over the owners on 42% according to the 2011 census. Renters are 33% of households nationally and 47% in London. National policy from all the major parties panders to the majority with rising equity in their homes as land owners. They are leaving renters to the whims landlords and international speculators in the international free market in land and housing that the UK has become. They otherwise attempting to bribe renters into owning. Among the robber barons now are the wealthy from Greece, Spain, Italy and China fleeing their own dodgy economies.
One of Harrison’s concerns is how the powerful land grabbers camouflage the damage done to society as good news. Landlords made £177 billion from rising prices over the five years to 2014. Home owners luxuriate in properties with many unused bedrooms. The taxpayers pay for the public amenities from which landowners gain. If there is a good state school or hospitals and good transport links in the area the price and rents of property go up, for which the landlords have done nothing.
National and International speculators buy land and leave it empty. Successful builders hoard land waiting for the price to rise. Housing benefit payments to landlords by the taxpayer rise with the market to £24bn and then the tenants housing benefit is capped. The tenants also pay direct and indirect taxes; national benefits are taxed by 250 councils in England and Wales. Tenants gain nothing from the increase in the value of the land. Those are the profound injustices at the heart of the current housing deal.
There is no need to privatise the land just replace inefficient taxes such as council tax, business rates and stamp duty with a low tax on all land, the common heritage of every citizen; and of course lower income tax and VAT.
Formal complaint against Secretary of State @ DWP for ignoring health consequences of low income debt & malnutrition
FORMAL COMPLAINT AGAINST THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WORK AND PENSIONS
He ignores the impact on mental and physical health of inadequate incomes, debt and malnutrition
There were 3.5K likes on the TAP website of the TAP letter to the PM of the 19th May and a further 1.5K on Facebook. So the total failure of IDS to address the health consequences of inadequate incomes, sanctions, high rents and debt must be challenged both for those 5000 and those whose health is damaged by austerity. The letter was posted to him recorded delivery yesterday 15th July 2015
The more Members of Parliament that can be encouraged to support the Formal Complaint to better.
To the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
London SW1H 9NA
15th July 2015
Dear Secretary of State,
AGAINST THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WORK AND PENSIONS
My complaint is that you have failed altogether to answer any of the points I raised in a letter to the Prime Minister dated the 19th May 2015 about the negative impact on the health of men, women and children of inadequate incomes, high rents and debt.
On the 19th May 2015 I wrote to the Prime Minister setting out a list of poverty issues that need to be dealt with by his government. I was primarily concerned that there are mentally and physically exhausted, malnourished people receiving totally inadequate incomes in work and unemployment often unfit for work but always struggling to keep it or find it.
At the heart of every point I raised was the negative impact on the health of men, women and children of inadequate incomes, high rents and inevitable debt.
I am attaching my letter to the Prime Minister, which cited robust evidence in support of the issues I raised with him. It was sent by his office to your department “so they may reply to you, in detail, on the matters you raise”. I am attaching your letter of the 17th June.
I complained about it to the Prime on the 2Ist June. His office tells me on the 29th June it was sent to your department but I have heard nothing more from you. I am attaching a chronology of my exchanges with the Prime Minister’s office.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Reverend Paul Nicolson
19th May PN’s original letter to the Prime Minister about the impact of inadequate incomes, debt and malnutrition on health
4th June No 10 Direct Communications Unit to PN. “Your correspondence has been forwarded to the relevant government department so they can reply to you, in detail, on the matters you raise”
7th June PN to No 10 Direct Communications Unit. “As I have raised a poverty agenda to be addressed by the Government as a whole I now ask you to send my letter to all the relevant government departments”. (I named 7)
17th June DWP Ministerial Correspondence to PN. “Key to this Government’s reforms is the introduction of the Universal Credit”
21st June PN complaint to the Prime Minister that “The words “health” or “debt” or “nutrition” or “rent” or “maternal” or “sanctions” do not appear even once in the DWP’s letter to me of the 17th June. It does not cite even one example of independent evidence about the impact on the health of the employed and the unemployed who engage with the current or future systems of social security”.
29th June No 10 Direct Communications Unit to PN. “I have passed your further letter to the Department for Work and Pensions, who have responsibility for the matters raised so they are aware of your ongoing concerns”
SINCE THEN SILENCE
FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WORK AND PENSIONS.
THE LONG TERM DAMAGE DONE TO HEALTH BY THE CHAOTIC UK HOUSING MARKET, TOTALLY INADEQUATE INCOMES AND INEVITABLE DEBT
THE LONG TERM DAMAGE DONE TO HEALTH
BY THE CHAOTIC UK HOUSING MARKET,
TOTALLY INADEQUATE INCOMES
AND INEVITABLE DEBT
I have recently joined the board of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition (ICBHN) . Shortly after that I was sent the following press release by the Rev Peter Challen. I sent it on to the Director of ICBHN, Professor Michael Crawford, who sent back the comment below the press release. Below that is my comment on inadequate incomes.
THE PRESS RELEASE – CHAOTIC HOUSING MARKET
The trilogy that changes the terms of debate on the future of our society.
Handbook on Humanity 1: Anatomy of a Killing Cult
As Evil Does
Published on July 31 by Geophilos, £12
What began as a land-grab by the medieval aristocracy mutated into a killing cult that claims people’s lives to this day. Fred Harrison, a former Fleet Street investigative journalist, traces the causal chain.
The killing begins with a tax regime that favours land owners. Poverty caused by the tax policies preferred by governments kill the cells in the limbic brains of babies born into low-income families. This impairs education and relationships, leading to poor employment prospects, the resort to damaging stimulants and, every year, the premature death of tens of thousands of UK citizens. Up to 12 years of life are lost.
In the first of a trilogy of exposés the author reveals why and how that culture is the primary barrier to the financial remedies that could erase the pathologies in society. Problems ranging from unaffordable housing, economic booms that cause busts, the over-exploitation of natural habitats, all are logical consequences of fiscal misgovernance. They cannot, therefore, be erased by the palliative policies which preoccupy Parliament.
Harrison explains how policies offered as solutions by politicians like Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne are exercises in messing with our minds. Issues that split the nation (like the North versus South divide) are interrogated to explain how tax policies institutionalise rent-seeking.
Sustainable economics is possible only if government adopts a financial algorithm that restores social evolution. No-one would be excluded from the riches that would flow if current taxes that subvert the wealth and health of nations were terminated.
Endorsements for previous books by Fred Harrison include
“a superb new jeremiad” Martin Wolf, Financial Times
“The man who predicted today’s housing woes – ten years ago…does Harrison really know something we don’t?” Ross Clark, Mail on Sunday
“This is the fundamental reason…why the welfare state of the past 60 years has not worked” (Ricardo’s Law) Ashley Seager, The Guardian
Note to News Editors: Fred Harrison can be contacted on 0203 601 3784, or cell: 0788 4066842. Fred Harrison is Director of the Land Research Trust, London, and author of books that can be viewed here: http://www.shepheard-walwyn.co.uk/authors/fred-harrison/
FROM PROFESSOR MICHAEL CRAWFORD
Thank you Paul – a must read. At last someone has woken up to the blindingly obvious now well confirmed if need be by medical science. Spelt out in a book in 1972 by Birch and Gussow “The disadvantaged child”.
The Report showed in great detail the extent of which ill-health and death are unequally distributed among the population of Britain, and suggested that these inequalities have been widening rather than diminishing since the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948.
The Report concluded that these inequalities were not mainly attributable to failings in the NHS, but rather to many other social inequalities influencing health: income, education, housing, diet, employment, and conditions of work. In consequence, the Report recommended a wide strategy of social policy measures to combat inequalities in health.
These findings and recommendations were virtually disowned by the then Secretary of State for Social Services, very few copies of the Report were printed, and few people had the opportunity to read it. The Black Report is an important document that deserves wide attention and debate.
May I add that since then The Acheson (1998) and Marmot reports (2010) have said similar things PN.
TOTALLY INADEQUATE INCOMES – PN
It is obvious that if the incomes of women of child bearing age are too low to buy a healthy diet and other necessities before and during pregnancy then there is a substantial risk that poor maternal nutrition in the womb will damage the life time mental and physical wellbeing of their offspring. Three days food from a food bank is not even near part of the answer.
The single adult JSA is £73.10 a week; increases have been frozen at 1% since 2011.
JRF published their minimum income standards for 2015 on the 1st July. Using Table 1 I have taken out rent, council tax, child care and social participation leaving £136.14 a week as a bare minimum to be compared with £73.10 a week JSA. £43. 38 is needed for a healthy diet and around £5 a week for council tax in 250 councils in England and Wales.
Many will be paying off debts plus enforcement costs. It is the food budget that is hit by the serious inadequacy of that £73.10 because inevitable rent and council tax arrears are paid first first due to draconian enforcement.
A healthy diet should should take £43.38 of that £73.10 but it is squeezed by cooking and keeping warm, other necessities, debt repayments, rising prices, council tax and rent arrears,
A single mother gets £73.10 a week whatever the number of her children. The cuts in housing benefit mean that either she covers the unpaid rent from her benefit or the children do from theirs. A couple get £114.85 JSA which means the overall benefit caps cut even harder.
With affordable rents measured at 80% of the market rent £73.10 a week will be expected to pay ever higher rents, due to cuts in housing benefits, as the market rises, so continually reducing the income needed for food.