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Civil disobedience to fight ill health


Rev Paul Nicholson, Taxpayers Against Poverty, Haringey Council, civil disobedience, council tax, poverty in the UKThe Rev Paul Nicolson has been summoned to court for non-payment of council tax.

He has been refusing to pay his council tax to Haringey Council as an act of civil disobedience in solidarity with everyone in the UK suffering mental or physical ill-health due to grossly inadequate incomes and debt in work, self-employment, unemployment or zero hours contracts, who are taxed by local authorities, and particularly those who have been forced by national and local government to go to a food bank.

And he has asked how many more infant deaths of the poorest mothers, and how much more diminished life expectancy, do there have to be before national and local governments can hear the overwhelming and undeniable evidence that low incomes impact on mental and physical health?

An unprecedented 52,400 more deaths were reported by the ONS to have occurred in the year to June 2015 as compared to the same period a year before.

The number of admissions to hospital for malnutrition increased by nearly 50 per cent from 4883 in 2010 to 7366 in 2015.

The government has cut the lowest incomes and allowed the UK housing market to increase rents.

Housing has become the cash cow for landlords, land owners and national and international developers.

Rents have increased both with the market and also because housing benefit is cut by the benefit cap and the bedroom tax.

Therefore the capacity of the lowest shredded incomes needed to buy food, water, fuel, clothes and other necessities, in order to maintain good health, is further reduced by ever increasing rents in the UK’s corrupt housing market.

For decades land owners have bent their financial viability assessments to reduce the number of truly affordable homes for rent to be able to sell more new homes on the open market.

So much so that the Financial Times was able to report on 6 July that “Regeneration of 50 council estates led to a net loss of 8,000 rented homes for poorer residents” (page 3).

And the Daily Telegraph to report on 11 July that “One in three homes with planning permission aren’t being built”.

UK land, with the encouragement of UK government, is treated as a commodity in an international free market by the rich and powerful for private profit – they grab the land therefore landless tenants have fewer and fewer homes to live in.

Local Councillors’ ignorance of the workings of the UK land and housing market has led them to team up with international property predators Lend Lease.

A majority of Haringey Councillors have therefore given the trend against landless tenants’ chances of a finding truly affordable home a very substantial boost to the  detriment of their own councils’ tenants.

The Council is trying to solve the national housing crisis by giving land to the kind of international predator that is causing the crisis and so hurting their council tenants, disrupting their children’s education and destroying their communities.

The forgotten ethical principle reads as follows:  “Land is a gift of nature which exists to provide shelter, food, fuel and clothes for all”.

It has also been forgotten by the Church of England, a substantial land owner, for whom it was is rephrased to begin “Land is a gift of a loving and generous God…”

Rev Paul Nicolson has also raised an objection to Haringey Council’s 2016/17 accounts with the Auditors, BDO LLP, of 55 Baker Street London W1U 7EU,​ asking them:

1 – to audit the £102 summons costs plus £13 for the liability order​;

2 – an​d​  queried the sense in enforcing the tax against people who cannot pay, so failing to collect over £2 million a year

And he asked the Highbury Corner Magistrates when and how they checked the costs of £115 they award this year against – mostly impoverished – council tax defaulters, 27,270 times in 2016/17.

​The bailiffs were dispatched by Haringey Council to the doorsteps of Haringey residents 11,492 times in 2016/17​.

There is a comprehensive description of how the £73.10 single adult unemployment benefit has been reducing in value since 1979 on the TAP website. 

Its increases were frozen in 2011.

It cannot cover 20 per cent of the council tax, let alone court costs (£115), ​and bailiffs fees (up to £400)​ introduced in 2013.

It also has to cover rent due to the bedroom tax and the benefit cap.

This is a cry for the prevention of ill health among the poorest people in the UK. Ill health created by the damagingly low level of their lowest incomes shredded by national government since 2010 and taxed by local government since 2013.

It is time for all this gross injustice to stop.

For more information go the Taxpayers Against Poverty website or facebook page.

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