Friday, 8 November 2013

Councils can waive Council Tax if people left without 'reasonable' amount to live on

As odium descends on Brent Council over its Council Tax summonses and a recent attempted eviction, Sarah Cox has circulated some useful advice from Tax Payers Against Poverty LINK

Councils can exercise discretion to waive Council Tax payments if people would be left without a 'reasonable' amount to live on - but Councils don't appear to tell the people affected that this is the case. Full details are on the website above but here are the main points:
The Council will not tell you:

1. That they have the discretion to write off the tax for vulnerable and impoverished people  under clause 10 (1) 13A (1) of the Local Government Finance Act 2012. It is necessary for the council tax benefit claimant to write a letter to the council setting out their financial circumstances, all debts, and all relevant information such  as health/disability. Payment of the bedroom tax, rent due to the overall benefit tax and the rent due to the housing benefit tax would be relevant.

2. That the bottom line is the income left after rent and council tax needed for food,  fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities; that has to be a reasonable amount if councils (and jobcentres) abide by the Wednesbury Principles as required by law and endorsed by coalition ministers.

3.That page 9 of the National Standards for Enforcement Agents, published by the Ministry of Justice in 2012,  sets out a procedure for bailiffs to return vulnerable cases from the door step to all creditors, including councils for council tax and courts for fines. A change of circumstances since the debt, fine or council tax arrears were incurred is another reason for applying page 9 procedure.


trevor said...

Come December 26th and I find That I remain unemployed I will find myself without any means to survive because according to the new Law
people can only claim benefits for a limited period of Time before it is stopped.
that will mean I will not be able to pay The £66 which I am currently paying towards the council Tax.
and Yet I am expecting to be forced by the council to continue paying even though I will not be able
due to the money I am currently Living on being stopped.
I personally think it is extremely unreasonable for the council to force me to pay £66 as it is
yet they justify it because I have some capital even though it's not a huge amount.
also when I look around and see what I get back in return for that £66 I am not satisfied.
because when added up I think the council is raking in a huge amount in council Tax and therefore for pavements and green areas etc etc to remain cluttered with litter cannot be justified since the money I pay along with everyone else
is the means for the council to pay to keep our pavements and green areas etc etc clean.
if the council was not receiving payment for such work to be carried out then I could understand why Pavements and green areas are left unswept and cluttered and street drains are allowed to be left blocked solid with dust and leaves etc.
but the council is receiving plenty of money to pay for those jobs to be Done and yet Wembley continues to be a shabby neglected part of Brent
and that cannot be justified and allowed to continue.

Anonymous said...

This practice of exercising discretion to let people who are too poor to pay off of local "taxes" is not new. Two hundred years ago the Poor Accounts for Kingsbury Parish show that the local Overseers of the Poor waived the "poor rates" due from a widow called Mrs Williams. She lived in a cottage valued at £8, so the 6d in the £ poor rates would have cost her four shillings. But she was destitute, and in receipt of just five shillings a week (plus some help with winter fuel) from the Overseers to meet her living expenses, so they let her off paying the poor rates. If you would like to know more about social care 200 years ago, please read my illustrated article "The Poor of the Parish" on the Brent Archives local history resources webpage at:,%20PG%202010.pdf
You may find yourself wishing for "the good old days", but probably not.
Philip Grant,
Wembley History Society