MPs MUST DEMAND REPORT IN PUBLIC INTEREST ABOUT IMPACT ON HEALTH OF CUTS, CAPS & COUNCIL TAX DURING PAST FIVE YEARS

MPs MUST DEMAND A REPORT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST ON THE CUMULATIVE IMPACT ON PEOPLE’S HEALTH OF THE CUTS, CAPS AND COUNCIL TAX DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS.

ENOUGH GOOD MEN AND WOMEN WERE ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT ON THE 7TH MAY 2015 TO MAKE CHANGE IN THE CURRENT POLITICAL ATTITUDE TO POVERTY IN THE UK.

PLEASE WRITE AND/OR VISIT YOUR MP’s CONSTITUENCY SURGERY.

THEY NEED PRESSURE FROM THE PEOPLE

Suggest that MPs and Peers demand a report in the public interest on the cumulative impact on the health of benefit claimants in work an unemployment of the cuts, caps & council tax  of the last five years, and the cost of debt and poverty related ill health to the NHS, Employers and the economy at large, before Parliament embarks on another round of cuts and caps.

It must link the impacts on the £73.10 a week JSA of the avalanche of disconnected but legal decisions made independently by Jobcenters, the local authorities and, the magistrates courts.

The job-center imposes a sanction stopping the JSA for say three months. That stops the local authorities’ housing benefit (HB) and council tax reduction scheme (CTRS). If the claimant is in no condition to reapply for HB and CTRS, as advised, then rent and council tax arrears begin. The £3.70 a week deduction from £73.10 to pay the council tax and another for water rates are stopped by the absence of an income.

A summons to the magistrates court for council tax arrears wings it way to the sanctioned person adding up to £125 costs. Rent arrears lead to threats of eviction. A TV licence cannot be paid triggering another summons to the magistrates. A fine is imposed; it too cannot be paid so the bailiffs call adding their fees; making the total for the TV licence up to £450. This piling of punishments on punishment is based on the events in the life of a single adult aged 59, which began with a sanction in January 2014. They are still hurting. He was without any third party support until December 2014, and was thinking about suicide.

Many other individuals and families have suffered in the same way.

Rev Paul Nicolson

Letter to Prime Minister EPIDEMIC OF DEBT RELATED ILLNESS UK POVERTY AGENDA TO BE URGENTLY ADDRESSED BY GOVERNMENT

 

This letter was posted to 10 Downing Street from Tottenham on the Tuesday 19th May 2015.

Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1 0AA
Email copy to MPs and Peers

 

Dear Prime Minister

AN EPIDEMIC OF DEBT RELATED ILLNESS – A UK POVERTY AGENDA TO BE URGENTLY ADDRESSED BY YOUR GOVERNMENT

I write to you without commitment to any political party but as a Christian trying to fulfil the commitment at the heart of our faith to love everyone and to put first the impoverished adults and children, vulnerable, sick, disabled and pensioners. TAP represents taxpayers of goodwill of all faiths and of none concerned about people in poverty in the UK.

We were founded on the 16th February 2012.   At that time I wrote “I am glad my taxation is used to enable my fellow citizens, both in and out of work, to buy enough food, clothes, fuel, transport and other necessities, to pay council tax and the rent of secure homes, when they have no other means to do so; and bewildered by the short-sightedness of a policy which deliberately reduces the totally inadequate adult JSA of £67.50 a week by creating rent arrears, with debt-related mental health problems and high extra costs for a hard-pressed NHS.”         We now have 12,834  likes on our Facebook page.

I have worked with and for our impoverished fellow citizens for over 30 years both individually and in endeavouring to reform those structures of state which at best inhibit the positive contribution they could make to the economy and the community and at worst make them ill.

DEBT RELATED ILL HEALTH

I think we will both agree that if the UK is to be economically successful at home and in a global economy there must be a healthy, contented well educated work force at all levels.

I suggest the difference between us is that you start at the top with a vision of a great society with everyone employed and enough to eat some time in the future.

I start now, at the bottom, where there are mentally and physically exhausted people receiving totally inadequate incomes in work and unemployment often unfit for work but always struggling to keep it or find it. They are exhausted because the state does not ensure they are paid enough income when they are in work or unemployment to buy a healthy diet, cook it, keep warm, buy clothes, transport and other necessities; then the state creates debilitating debts. Debt and mental health problems are linked.

http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/MIS-2014-Final.pdf
See Government office For Science https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/292450/mental-capital-wellbeing-report.pdf
Royal College of Psychiatrists http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/qualityimprovement/research/debtandmentalhealth.aspx
and the Faculty of Public Health http://www.fph.org.uk/the_cost_of_poor_mental_health

The toxic mixture of debts created by the state and then ferociously enforced against inadequate incomes paid by the state are creating stress and poor diet, which in turn are creating ever increasing costs in the health, education and social services, to the employers and to the economy at large. There are intergenerational consequences for the impoverished families impacted.

The state reduces their incomes by creating rent arrears with housing benefit cuts and council tax arrears with council tax benefit cuts. Local authorities add the costs of enforcement; it all knocks on to arrears in utilities and borrowing from high interest lenders. It really is that bad. Hence a 51% increase in evictions of renters since 2010.

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/may/14/tenant-evictions-reach-six-year-high-rising-rents-benefit-cuts

We should treasure poorest employed and the unemployed people with a minimum income for healthy living because they are needed to create the wealth or serve the community in ways we all need.

A FAILED HOUSING MARKET FUELS DEBT RELATED ILL HEALTH

More homes are desperately needed but building them is by no means a panacea;

• Describing affordable rents as 80% of the market rent has no link with the tenants’ incomes. Under that definition affordable homes become unaffordable in a rising market taking more and more of the income needed for food, fuel and other necessities.

• It will take many years perhaps decades to build enough homes to reduce prices and rents; meanwhile the damage of rising rents leading to the eviction of the poorest renters will continue creating intergenerational health problems.

• Meanwhile house prices and rents escalate in a housing market in short supply driving a coach and horses through the viability and good intentions of the living wage and the national minimum wage.

http://www.dannydorling.org/books/allthatissolid/

We are approaching an epidemic of debt related illness. I have no party political axe to grind but I am politically indignant about the state cutting housing benefit and council tax benefit which then creates rent and council tax arrears that have to be paid out of £73.10 a week JSA. It makes people hungry and ill; and that costs the tax payer billions in the health service.

IMPACT OF COUNCIL TAX ON POOREST RESIDENTS

The Local Government Association calls on the new government to fully fund council tax support, acknowledging that the scheme costs the councils millions of pounds and has increased the cost of living for some of the poorest. It estimates councils will have lost £1bn over the three years to April 2015/16 when they dumped the whole of the 10% cut in central government funding of council tax benefit on benefit claimants by taxing their poverty incomes in work and unemployment. Over 3 million late and non-payers are still being summoned to the magistrates courts in England and Wales every year, adding court costs while threatening the bailiffs and prison to residents who cannot pay the tax.

[1] http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/6869714/L14-635+Council+tax+support+report_v03/ad9031f0-d982-428d-bf98-5418b74a851c

SANCTIONS

http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/rethink-sanctions

There is a fundamental injustice in severely punishing people without due process of law. The courts deal with matters of justice better than jobcentres. Cancelling peoples incomes for up to three months or more is a more severe punishment than given for theft. There is also an administrative failure to treat people fairly. When the jobcentre computer stops JSA it sends a message to the Local Authority computer to stop housing and council tax benefit. Claimants are then told to reapply for them both.  That does not happen when the claimant cannot cope with the absolute poverty enforced by a sanction; some suffer a breakdown and call on their GPs.

FAMILY STRESS

http://www.stepchange.org/Mediacentre/Researchandreports/TheDebtTrap.aspx http://www.jrf.org.uk/topic/education-and-poverty 

Children often find it very difficult to take full advantage of the education available to them when their already impoverished parents have been forced into debt by the state and are worried stiff about letters threatening a visit from the bailiffs ; over three million a year are sent out by the local authorities to late and non payers of council tax , most of whom have low incomes. But it gets worse; there are unreasonable expectations by central and local government about the capacity and resilience of people under that cosh to cope.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/120724-gc0001.htm

POOR MATERNAL NUTRITION

http://www.health-inequalities.eu/HEALTHEQUITY/EN/about_hi/marmot_reviews/#English_Review http://www.ifbb.org.uk/professor-michael-crawford

Persistent warnings from scientists about the intergenerational damage done by poor maternal nutrition and low birthweight to children’s mental capacity are ignored. There are dire intergenerational consequences . Women need healthy diet before and during pregnancy; impossible with three days food from a food bank and on ££73.10 a week IS/JSA/ESA persistently reduced by debt, rent and council tax arears created by the state.

CONCLUSION

All governments since at least 1979 have claimed that they want to implement evidence based policies but they have persistently ignored the evidence.

The Treasury never calculates how much poverty related ill health and educational underachievement costs the taxpayer in the NHS, the schools, employers and the wider economy. The Faculty of Public Health suggests that mental health problems alone cost the NHS, the employers and the economy at large £105 billion. http://www.fph.org.uk/the_cost_of_poor_mental_health
I very much hope that, over the next five years, you will use your majority of MPs to help Parliament to change its policies about poverty. In particular I hope you will treasure the unemployed as vital to the success of the economy whose health and wellbeing must be maintained while they look for work.

Reverend Paul Nicolson, Founder, Taxpayers Against Poverty

GOVERNMENT SINCE 1980 FAIL UK POOREST RENTERS BY LETTING HOME OWNERS ENRICH THEMSELVES IN UNFAIR PROPERTY FREE MARKET

GOVERNMENT SINCE 1980 FAIL UK POOREST RENTERS

BY LETTING HOME OWNERS ENRICH THEMSELVES

IN UNFAIR PROPERTY FREE MARKET

The 2008 financial crisis began in the 1980s. The 1979 government deregulated lending, abolished the limits on borrowing for a mortgage, abolished rent controls, and allowed the free flow of money in and out of the UK. The 1997 government let it rip. The UK parliament  failed the poorest renters.

National and international money flooded into the UK housing market in short supply pushing up prices and lending. The market is never fair. That is very true about the housing market. The poorest renters are being blamed for the massive rise in the national cost of housing beneifit to £24 billion a year. Houisng beneit was cut in 2008 and 2013 while rents go on upwards. Rents set at 80% of market rents,  the official measure of affordability, become  increasingly unaffordable.

There are now 1000s of evictions.of the poorest renters. This link to a graph by the late Prof Peter Ambrose illustrates damaging effect of deregulation of the housing market from 1980 to 2004.

 The House Purchase Debt graph – 1980-2004 with commentary (2)

Rev Paul Nicolson.

The madness of councils taxing incomes too low to buy a healthy diet cook it keep warm travel buy clothes&other needs

The madness of councils taxing incomes too low to buy a healthy diet, cook it, keep warm, travel, buy clothes & other necessities

LETTER IN THE GUARDIAN 14 MAY 2011

The Core Cities UK Cabinet and the clergy, ministers and religious leaders whose letters you published (Letters, 12 May) should read Council Tax Support: the continuing story, from the Local Government Association.

http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/6869714/L14-635+Council+tax+support+report_v03/ad9031f0-d982-428d-bf98-5418b74a851c

It calls on the new government to fully fund council tax support, acknowledging that the scheme costs the councils millions of pounds and has increased the cost of living for some of the poorest. It estimates councils will have lost £1bn over the three years to April 2015/16 when they dumped the whole of the 10% cut in central government funding of council tax benefit on benefit claimants by taxing their poverty incomes in work and unemployment.

Over 3 million late and non-payers are still being summoned to the magistrates courts in England and Wales every year, adding court costs while threatening the bailiffs and prison to residents who cannot pay the tax.

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

The High Court Judgement in my case can be found here.

 

 

Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates & Haringey game set and match to poorest – judgement on TAP website

Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates & London Borough of Haringey game set and match to the poorest residents of England and Wales. .

The judegment can be found here. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2015/1252.rtf

High Court Judgement It’s game, set and match to the poorest residents

The council tax  liability order made against me on the 2nd August 2013 has been declared unlawful because the Tottenham magistrates did not have sufficient information before them to enable me to make properly informed submissions on whether the costs claimed were reasonably incurred in obtaining the liability order.

Whether the £125 costs are lawful or not awaits the report of the external Auditors, Grant Thornton. Their enquiries can now begin.

I made the challenge because I know £125 costs is a very big penalty on top of the inevitable council tax arrears, rent arrears and sanctions for  the 1000s of benefit claimants in work and unemployment who have been charged the council tax by Haringey Council since April 2013. See “The reasons why I took the case is on TAP website in previous post.

On the 2nd August 2013 I asked Tottenham magistrates.

“How do you arrive at £125 costs? “……

…….which they allow Haringey Council to charge in over 20,000 cases a year when awarding liability orders against late and non payers of council tax. They refused to answer. There are about 3 million liability orders granted annually by magistrates to councils in England and Wales. About 4 million unemployed individuals, families and disabled benefits are built on the deeply inadequate £73.10 a week single adult unemployment benefits.ben01nov2014_tcm77-381292 (3) – key out of work benefits

 

Mrs Justice Andrews DBE has noted in her judgement that the Tottenham Magistrates;

1. did not know the answer,
2. have lost any answer they might have had,
3. did not try to find the answer
4. therefore I or any other resident of Haringey are unable to challenge the lawfulness of the liability orders before they are made.

She called the answer to my question my by Tottenham Magistrates and Haringey Council question “waffle” at the hearing on the 30th April. She also stated that the Magistrates are all that comes between the public and the council’s charging as much as they like.

She has stated in her judgement that the Magistrates are lawfully required to decide the matter of costs in accordance with the regulations. They must be satisfied that;

1. the local authority has actually incurred those costs
2. that the costs in question were incurred in obtaining the liability order
3. and that it was reasonable for the local authority to incur them.

The residents of Haringey and further afield in England and Wales can be very grateful to Helen Mountfield QC and Eloise Le Santo and the team at Matrix Chambers for taking on this case free of charge.

Exercising my right as a resident of Haringey I have asked Grant Thornton the external Auditors of Haringey’s accounts to produce a report in the public interest about the £125 level of costs the council asks the magistrates to agree.

The related question is “What is the point of enforcing the council tax against people whose incomes are so low they cannot pay?”

The Local Government Association has reported that there is a £1 billion shortfall between the cost of maintaining the pre-2013 scheme, and the funding available in 2015/16 and highlighted the increased regressiveness of council tax once the safety net of fully funded CTB was removed.