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Council Tax cuts

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Thursday 7 February 2013 6.00pm
right, here it is - it's really really difficult to contain the anger or transform it into articulate/understandable language! :S
Thursday 7 February 2013 7.59pm
pros wrote:
@kellandj - that's extremely helpful - there appear to be a few points which would need further definition/clarification - ex the evidence that the creditor has tried everything else before - is there an amount of time which 'everything else' would take? (say, in theory, you could get 5 letters in a single week, all escalating from one to the next, then on day 6 dwp starts reducing your benefits automatically?) - also, this document is from 2009 and there may be an updated one + of course the council's own guidances and 'procedures' (not that i trust those much!)
would you be able to do some online digging?

There are probably some dwp and southwark 'internal' documents. this is currently used in rent arrears. anecdotally, you get one set of documents 'hand-delivered' to your address, then a 'we're doing it' letter from council if you don't immediately join the at least hour-long queue at peckham library to see your rent officer (which only delays the inevitable), followed shortly by a deduction letter from dwp in any case also outlining your 'lack of' appeal rights eg none.
i can't 'google' anything more recent - the dwp site is pretty good at disclosure of manuals, guidances etc but this is the best i can find - it depends of the search i suppose, someone may be luckier?

bottom line is that unlike the 1990 poll tax, there won't be long lines of refusniks at camberwell magistrates court. they will just steal your money!
Thursday 7 February 2013 8.01pm
thanks so much for all of this & shame you can't see me nodding vigorously in agreement
Thursday 7 February 2013 8.26pm
The inconvenient truth is that this country cannot afford its welfare bill.

It would be nice if they could ditch nuclear weapons though - that would raise a few bob.
Friday 8 February 2013 12.22am
There are lot of things that could be ditched (like nuclear arms) or re focused to save the poorest in the UK being hounded-
100's of Millions of pounds bail out bankers- yet 45 million can't be found to save a hospital.
As far as Ct cuts etc are concerned it is the same- alot of egs on this thread.
Friday 8 February 2013 11.43am
kellandj wrote:
bottom line is that unlike the 1990 poll tax, there won't be long lines of refusniks at camberwell magistratues court. they will just steal your money!

Yes, I suspect you are bang on the money. It really is Robin Hood in reverse: stealing from the poor to keep some of the country's fattest cats in double cream.

However, I think it inevitable that public attention will soon focus upon these council officers, who are so massively overpaid, and they will become the focus of opprobrium in the way that bankers have been.
Friday 8 February 2013 2.44pm
Floodplain wrote:
The inconvenient truth is that this country cannot afford its welfare bill.
It would be nice if they could ditch nuclear weapons though - that would raise a few bob.

Hi Floodplain - completely agree that nuclear weapons are a huge waste.

WRT the welfare bill being out of control, it's true that we spend a greater proportion of our GDP on welfare than the United States, Canada, Australia. And Estonia. But we spend much less than other European countries, like France, Denmark, Sweden and Germany. You can find the data at by searching for SOCX - I can't find a nice link, though.

Given those international comparators, I'd dispute that the welfare bill is out of control. But it's a useful story to justify policies like Council Tax Benefit cuts and cuts in the DLA.

Of our benefit spending, 47% is on pensions (which were 'paid for' from the NI contributions of the pensioners). Surely it would be unfair to cut these back, and doing so would disincentivise saving among the current generation of workers.

The next largest 'benefits' are housing benefit of 16.94bn (+5.2%) and Disability living allowance of 12.57bn (+3.3%). Jobseekers' allowance is actually one of the smaller benefits - 4.91bn in 2011-12, an increase of 7.6% on the previous year. - copied from here.

It's difficult to see how to cut benefits to make serious savings, and the bedroom tax and cuts in Council Tax benefit will hurt many people but only make a scratch in the benefits bill.

Separately, the HMRC distributes just under 30bn pa on tax credits - which is mostly a subsidy to employers paying poverty pay. This could be reduced by raising the NMW and the income tax threshold, but I don't suppose the employers would be very keen.

On the other hand, companies, like Amazon, are perfectly happy to employ people who were educated by the state and are treated by the NHS when they are sick. They use publicly funded roads to transport their goods - the safety of which is down to the publicly funded police force. And they rely on the publicly funded legal system to make trading in the UK possible.

While enjoying all of these benefits, they go out of their way to minimise their contribution to these common goods. Are they what are called in the contemporary discourse, "Scroungers"? If the welfare bill is heavy, perhaps the government should expect businesses like these to take some pain at the same time as the rest of us.

Finally, distributing money to poor people (eg through benefits) is an economically good thing in a period of economic difficulty caused by low demand. It's called an 'automatic stabiliser'.

People with little tend to go out and spend it, creating demand and, with it, jobs and profits where they live, and the taxes that this economic activity generates.

People with enough, or plenty of, money tend to save windfalls. This might end up being invested in businesses, but there's significant leakage to other countries, or into tax havens.

Sorry for the long message, but this is a complex field and I'm quite interested in it.
Friday 8 February 2013 8.56pm
Rambling Phil,

Some good points on Amazon (etc.) tax avoidance, and I agree also about the London living wage (LLW) - this appeals to me in several ways- the additional cost of LLW is to the private sector, not the public purse (i.e. Taxpayers) - second, it absolutely is a way to incentivise choosing working, over benefits. The low wages paid to cleaners are a scandal.

Another opportunity is to prohibit - by law - anyone working in the public sector to earning more than the PM (+140,000?) - and no bonuses, either.

Where we will no doubt have to differ, is that I really admire this Government for having the courage to begin to reform the welfare system. All adminstrations before them - Labour and Conservative - have ducked tackling this.

The Universal Benefit - coming I think in September(?) - will crucially provide a taper-in of benefit top-ups to those on low wages.

Reference recent posts on this thread - the silent majority out there is not going to be happy with yet more taxpayer money being wasted on Judicial Reviews and already-rich lawyers challenging long-overdue welfare reform.

Able-bodied people of working age have got to start making a change in how they view benefits - they see them as a birth-right - this is not what they were designed for - they are supposed to exist as a safety net, and this principle has been distorted in recent decades.
Friday 8 February 2013 9.09pm
Floodplain- where I agree benefits are not a birth rights and should be a saftey net- the problem is the minimum wage and the lack of wage increases along with inflation. I am between jobs now- but confident I will get one soon. However in the past when between jobs I used to be able to temp 2-3 days a week sometimes more and just about live on it- until times got better. The temping rate is the same or less per hour than it was 10-15 yrs ago and if I worked over 16hrs I would lose my benefits- working tax credits hardly helped and turned into a nightmare when they had overpaid me on my allowance of 13.00 a week and took it back through my then benefit.
The system and the cost of living are to blame-as I said - on JSA I am left with 9.00 a week for food/travel/all(after my dd's and sos are paid) I think my birthright is a bit more than that.
Friday 8 February 2013 9.24pm

I totally agree that the minimum wage level is a shamefully low. I would be happier if the work done on benefit reform to improve top-ups to the low-paid with the new Universal Credit could be balanced by the same effort on raising the minimum wage. Boris Johnson is pushing the London Living Wage and so the Government will have to pay attention to this...

Good luck with your job hunting - judging by the intelligence of your previous posts you more than deserve to find something soon.
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