Now it is Council Tax Benefit that is being cut too.
The Conservative led Coalition Government in Westminster decided that for the current financial year 2013/14 the money payable to Leeds City council under the new council tax support scheme would be reduced by about £5.2m. Reducing spending to wipe out the debt left by irresponsible bankers was the excuse but it is those who can least afford to pay who are picking up the bill.
71% of councils are asking working age adults to pay some council tax. In Leeds the amount payable was set at 19% meaning that a single person who previously paid nothing now has £125 to pay a year and a couple will have to find £166 a year. This is money that those on benefits cannot find unless they go without essentials such as food, clothing or the cost of utility charges. 36,000 families in Leeds are affected
What happens in Court?
People have received reminder letters if they failed to pay the council tax demanded (28,000 sent out in June!) and that has been followed by a summons to come to Court. Initially you will be asked to speak to an officer of the council. You will be asked to reach an agreement to pay and also to pay the costs of the summons and the costs of the liability order which will add £90 to what you owe.
You do not have to agree anything. You have the right to demand to speak to the Magistrates – but that will mean you have to wait until later in the morning. You could ask the Magistrates to not impose the costs as they are too expensive or you could ask that your case is adjourned to give you time to apply for a review of the bill under the council tax reduction scheme. This could result in the debt being reduced to nil but it will mean writing a letter to the council explaining why you are in financial difficulty or “vulnerable”.
If you stick to your guns it may be that the council officers will agree to your demands in order to save Court time. If you don’t ask you don’t get – so give it a try. We may be able to help you in Court and you should not feel intimidated. You are not here as a criminal and Magistrates may have sympathy with your position.
Council Help. Councillor Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, has said “we are trying to do all we can to help vulnerable people”, but it was he who agreed to bring you to Court.
Support the campaign.
We have been campaigning over the Bedroom Tax for months and will fight every cut in benefits that the Tories throw at us. Join us as together we can win.
Phone 075040 17322 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Support the demonstration on the 29th September at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.
(call 0113 245 8442 for details of free transport to Manchester)