Up to 70,000 vulnerable individuals – the UK’s poorest who qualify for means-tested council tax benefits – are being pressured by bailiffs over unpaid council taxes after Government cuts.
The so-called “new poll tax” has devastated homes across Britain, and new figures reveal the extent of the damage the Government-imposed 10% reduction in funding last April has caused.
Totalling GBP 50 million, the cut was intended to cut down the UK’s total welfare bill.
Whilst the Government gave instructions for local councils to avoid measures which would affect pensioners, this left other at-risk sectors of society with bills they can’t afford.
The frequently witnessed inability of these vulnerable groups to pay – witnessed in long queues outside local courts – and the large scale of the cut has given rise to the nickname: “Poll tax mark II.”
One think tank has estimated to be between GBP 100 and GBP 250 a year – though some houses have witnessed a GBP 600 yearly increase.
Even original poll tax creator Lord Jenkin of Roding has compared the benefit cut with the calamitous poll tax policy of 1990.
The following figures, gained from Freedom of Information act requests, highlight the extent of the problem:
- 400,000 individuals have had court-imposed liability orders
- 70,000 of these have received mail from bailiffs
- In total, 2.3 million individuals face a higher tax bill
- 2,900 Armed Forces veterans and war widows face increases
- 500,000 have been given court summons over unpaid council tax bills
- 600,000 cannot pay off the debt – leaving them in arrears.
Furthermore in Basildon alone, a Conservative-controlled town, 123 disabled persons have been given bailiff notices.
Some of these individuals have also complained of letters which state their goods will be seized if they do not pay – leading them to pawn jewellery, televisions and other valuable goods.
“This poll tax has caused misery for hundreds of thousands of people across the country, driving them into the courts and into debt,” noted Shadow Local Government Secretary Hilary Benn.
Basildon Disability Equality Forum’s Mark Dale also expressed his opinion, stating: “I am appalled at how heavy handed this has been. It is one thing to have to implement the tax cut, but it is a whole different ball game to send the bailiffs round.”
Please note the 70,000 figure mentioned above regarding individuals who have received letters from bailiffs is a calculation based on the figures given for 143 councils applied across England.