On 31 October the House of Commons will debate the Local Government Finance Bill, which proposes to cut 10% of the grant local authorities receive from central government towards council tax benefits.
People now entitled to Council Tax Benefit will be expected to pay up to 30% of their Council Tax. People already struggling on poverty-line wages and benefits, are up in arms at the prospect of yet another expense they cannot afford.
The government claims pensioners, sick and disabled people and families with young children will be exempt, but we all know that many people who should be protected, aren’t when you look closely.
This tax is on top of the housing and benefit caps, abolition of the social fund, the escalating prices of food, fuel and transport. Vulnerable people are being forced off sickness and disability benefits, mums are skipping meals so children can eat.
Opposition is growing, including in PM David Cameron’s backyard of West Oxfordshire. They and other Councils are insisting on keeping Council Tax Benefit. We call on all Councils to do the same. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/aug/26/council-tax-benefits-revolt )
At least two million more people will be forced into debt to pay these bills, and could end up with massive fines and prison, without any legal representation because of cuts to legal aid and advice services.
With the poll tax, people refused on a mass scale. We can’t let this next disaster be railroaded through. There is plenty of money for all our needs – from military budgets, bankers’ bonuses, company profits and corporate tax.
Indeed, the super-rich have got richer off our impoverishment.
“The annual Sunday Times Rich List yields four very important conclusions for the governance of Britain . . . It shows that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare.” (Letter: The scourge of our wealth divide, Michael Meacher MP).
A vigil is planned to protest these changes, called by Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty and WinVisible. It takes place from 12.30 – 1.30pm on Wednesday 31 October opposite Parliament, at the House of Lords’ entrance, Old Palace Yard, Abingdon Street, SW1. Westminster is the nearest tube station.
Please come and raise your concerns on the vigil. Bring your own placards with issues you are concerned about. Call radio shows and your local press about how you will be affected. Lobby your MP and your local councillors and ask for a borough-wide public meeting to oppose welfare cuts.
(c) The Rev Paul Nicolson is a social justice campaigner and coordinator of Taxpayers Against Poverty (http://www.taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/ )