Four out of ten poor Londoners ‘face court summons over council tax’

16 Jul 14
Anti-poverty campaigners are warning that poor families in London are struggling to pay their council tax bills following benefit cuts.

A report issued today by the Child Poverty Action Group and anti-poverty campaigners Z2K found that for every ten Londoners who have seen the entitlement to council tax support reduced, four have been unable to meet payments and have received a court summons.

In April last year, overall funding for council tax benefit was reduce by 10% and responsibility for determining eligibility criteria localised to councils, although pensioners had entitlements protected.

Both charities are urging the government to reverse this policy and return to a national system of council tax benefit, but councils were also criticised for failing to do more to ameliorate the cuts.

CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: ‘This research shows the direct impact that changes to council tax funding are having on the poorest families. Families tell us that it is simply not possible for them to make theses payments from household budgets already stretched to breaking point.

‘Problems are being exacerbated for residents by councils increasing the debt owed by adding additional charges to a bill they are already struggling to pay.

‘We call on central government and local authorities to stop taxing households that are too poor to pay.’

The report highlighted that low-income Londoners tend to face higher council tax bills under the reformed regime than they did under Council Tax Benefit. On average, they are expected to finding an additional £151 a year.

Nearly 16,000 cases have been referred to bailiffs and local authority collection rates have been affection.

Z2K chief executive Joanna Kennedy said: ‘Any policy that results in nearly 40% of those affected being sent a court summons clearly isn’t working.

‘While it is vital that the government restores the funding cut, in the meantime local authorities have an opportunity to do more for their residents.’


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