170 tenants evicted EVERY DAY in England and Wales AND councils tax their benefit incomes, then blindfold the magistrates with computer printouts, who give leave to intimidate 1,000,000s of vulnerable people.
NATIONAL MARCH AGAINST THE HOUSING ACT ~ for secure tenancies and controlled rents
Rev Paul Nicolson – delivered at Hyde Park Corner on the 18th June 2016
The enforcement of council tax against benefits since April 2013 is a story about piling stress upon stressed households with the indiscriminate use of information technology against the most vulnerable people in England and Wales. Many will also have rent arears due to cuts in housing benefit. The means to pay off the rent and the council tax arrears is often stopped by a benefit sanction for one month, three months or three years.
Since April 2013 housing benefit has been cut three stressful times, by the co-called “Bedroom tax”, the “Benefit cap” and the “Local Housing Allowance”. Those three cuts in housing benefit have created rent arrears, evictions and misery for tenants. In 2015 more than 170 tenants were evicted every day in England and Wales, according to Ministry of Justice figures. That is a record and a horrid record too.
Also since April 2013 the same benefit income, which is expected to pay the rent, due to those cuts in housing benefit by central government, is expected to pay council tax due to the cuts in council tax benefit by local government. Many cannot pay either rent or council tax.
That is where information technology clashes with vulnerable humanity. A loveless computer printout is carried by the councils to the magistrates’ courts. On it will be 10s, 100s or 1000s of names of late and non payers of council tax. The printouts blindfold the Magistrates. In May 2013, at the first enforcement courts after benefits were taxed by Haringey Council, there were over 4000 names on the printouts. The Tottenham magistrates waved their hands over these loveless printouts and “they presto” the council is given permission, with liability orders, to enforce the tax against 1000s of people, with draconian acts of intimidation.
There are threats to take the arrears out of shredded benefits or low pay, of the bailiffs and prison. Over 20,000 liability orders a year awarded by the blindfolded Tottenham Magistrates to the London Borough of Haringey and 3.5 million by other magistrates to councils in England and Wales in 2013/14.