Crippling court costs force poverty-stricken people to ‘plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit’

Poverty-stricken people are being encouraged to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit out of fear they will face crippling costs imposed by new financial penalties, leading lawyers, magistrates and campaigners have warned.

Legal experts have called for an urgent review of the criminal courts charge, which has been compared to “18th-century” forms of justice after being implemented earlier this year.

The new levy was introduced by the former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to make criminals pay for the upkeep of the courts. Because the charge can be up to 10 times higher if someone is found guilty after pleading innocence, critics say it is undermining the justice system by encouraging impoverished defendants to plead guilty even if they have done nothing wrong.

The charge is not means-tested or adjusted according to the seriousness of the crime. In the magistrates’ court it is fixed at £150 if someone pleads guilty, but it can rise to £1,000 if they are found guilty. Campaigners also say it has created an extra hardship for those whose crimes are motivated by poverty – and makes the punishment for small crimes disproportionate.

Many of those affected are homeless or unemployed, with no hope of paying. Recently subjected to the charge were a man who stole three bottles of baby milk, a woman who pinched a £2.39 bottle of shampoo and a homeless man who took a 99p can of Red Bull.

The Independent has learnt of a case this week where a man from Portsmouth was made to pay the £150 charge – as well as a £250 fine and a £25 victim surcharge – after pleading guilty to stealing a £1 bag of chocolate buttons from WHSmith. The charge was levied just a month after his application for bankruptcy was accepted.

The new policy was introduced on 13 April but since the charge can only be imposed on those whose crimes were committed after that date, the courts are only just beginning to see the full effect. At least 30 magistrates – many of them among  the most experienced – have already stepped down from the bench over the changes and many more are predicted to resign as further cases come through.

read the rest of this article here:

There is great poverty in this country, but there are also great riches

Wages for most people have fallen over the past five years, meaning that work is no longer a guaranteed route out of poverty.
 Here’s the latest infographic from
More than half of the UK households in poverty contain someone in work. But many at the top have not had to economise. The number of UK billionaires has grown rapidly, as has pay for top company bosses.
There is great poverty in this country, but there are also great riches.


Tory attack on the poor spreads from the disabled to the elderly and children

For once, the Daily Mail‘s indignation is right on the button.

It reports today that district nurses are being asked to encourage elderly people to sign their lives away.


read this srticle on Vox Political here:

Dear Ed Miliband, We’re Looking To You To Defend Us From Deplorable Welfare Cuts

Same Difference

This article titled Dear Ed Miliband, We’re Looking To You To Defend Us From Deplorable Welfare Cuts and written by E Davis was first published by the Welfare News Service on 23 March 2014 and has been reproduced here with permission.

Dear Mr Miliband,

I do not profess to know an awful lot about politics. In fact I did not even really care about it much, as I always felt secure. I always knew that as a severely disabled person I would be protected and looked after. However, since 2010 this has changed.

I remember well the pledge made by David Cameron that, “those who need help the most would get it.” That was a lie. The present government has attacked those who “need help the most” constantly and ferociously.

They have given us the Bedroom Tax, cut back on the amount of support given (by depriving local councils of funds). They have…

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Rich will live life to the full 20 years longer than poor, official figures show

Stark divide in life chances between rich and poor laid bare in official study showing most well-off have 20 years more of productive lifespan than most deprived

Children growing up in the richest areas of Britain can expect to live a full, active life for as much as 20 years longer than their counterparts in the poorest neighbourhoods, an official analysis shows.

A generation of young people living in the most deprived areas are likely to see their health effectively broken 15 years before they even reach pension age, it warns.

Those from more well-off backgrounds are forecast not only to live longer overall but to enjoy good health for a much larger proportion of their lives.

Although it has long been recognised that there is gap between rich and poor in terms of life expectancy, the divide is more than twice as wide when viewed through health expectations.

According to the Office for National Statistics, men from the most deprived 10 per cent of the population have an average life expectancy of just 73.4 years, compared with 82.7 years on average for those in the least deprived 10 per cent – a gap of more than nine years.

by John Bingham in the Telegraph, 15th March 2013:

Most families hit by benefits cap ‘have no job or housing options’

In an analysis of the government’s welfare reforms, including the introduction of the cap, the LGA found that households claiming benefits would be worse off by £1,615 per year by 2015/16, or around £31 a week, on average.

However, the study, carried out by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion for the LGA, found that a shortage of jobs and affordable homes meant almost four of five households require assistance from their council to help them cope with welfare reductions.

Publishing the report, the chair of the LGA’s finance panel, Sharon Taylor, said that, in many areas, the jobs ‘simply don’t exist’ for those being hit by welfare reform. Opportunities for people to move to smaller homes to cope with reductions in benefits were also severely limited by a lack of affordable accommodation, she added. ‘Unless more is done to create new jobs and homes, households will be pushed into financial hardship and we will see a huge rise in the number of people going to their councils asking for help to make ends meet.’

By Richard Johnstone in ‘Public Finance’ 12th August 2013. Read the full article here:

Who said the poor can’t budget? Read this IDS and hang your head in shame.

Grannie's Last Mix

sRBT1  I discovered an interesting website dedicated to collecting stories of people struggling with the bedroom tax. Sadly so far has only one story, the story of Sue and Steve from Norfolk. But what a story it is. Its the story of a man, disabled by an accident, who has to count every penny in order to survive. I’ve reproduced his story below and urge anyone who has their own story to tell to contact this website and so help them build a database of hard evidence of what is actually happening to ordinary decent folk. Here’s Sue and Steve of Norfolk’s story. I challenge anyone to read it without shedding a tear…


Sue and Steve – Norfolk

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2013

Our story so far

 First some old history. In November 2000, I was in a car accident in which a car hit me from behind while…

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