Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tory tax on the poor – coming to a council near you

Once upon a time, there were 20 people living in King Tory‘s Mansion, 10 of whom were assessed as ‘unable’ to pay for their Council Tax for various reasons ranging from old age, disabilities, mental illness or lowly paid. The total amount of Council Tax for all 20 people was £2,000, or £100 per a person. The 10 that could pay, did directly and the 10 that could not had their Council Tax paid for by King Tory, totalling £1,000.

One day King Tory says to the 10 who can’t pay: “We are only going to pay £900 towards your Council Tax”, or a 10% cut. The 10 would need to find £10 each to top up the amount needed for Council Tax.

King Tory has a condition: he will give £900 but the pensioners will be protected 100% from paying any Council Tax. As 5 of the 10 are pensioners, £500 of the £900 is spent on them. This means the remaining 5 only have £400 between them, and now need to find £20 each. So the cut for them is 20% even though the pot is only 10% smaller.

The central government is imposing an ideology many of us would remember as the ‘Poll Tax’ where everyone must pay something. What they have done is fired a shot, and handed the gun to Local Councils to take the rap. We must not be fooled by this, even though some Councils appear to be taking the blame for the shot fired.

Who gets shot next is up to us, it’s called ‘Localism’, through the ‘consultations’.

Central Government have asked Local Councils to undertake, we decide who pays and who does not, whether everyone outside the protected pensioners pay 20% or whether we also protect low income families with Children, thus increasing the percentage for the rest.

We are being forced to choose one vulnerable group over another, groups that probably will already be facing cuts in Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Disability Allowance and anything else from the ‘Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) etc.

This also creates a ‘postcode lottery’ as People with Disabilities could win the X-Factor style choice in one borough but in a neighbouring borough People with Disabilities have not won the popularity contest to be chosen. Therefore, many Local Councils are proposing a blanket ‘they all pay the same percentage regardless of circumstances’ roll out.

In Haringey where I live the shortfall is £5.7m this year and it is not 10 people affected, it is 36,000 in our borough alone. Some families are looking at a loss of a variety of benefits, including Council Tax to equate a weekly shortfall of up to £246.33.

Haringey is one of the cheapest places in London to live, so if families are unable to live here then social cleansing from more affluent areas is most definitely going to be taking place, if not already.

There are options, the Local Authority could use money from another budget to pay for this shortfall, but in Haringey that budget is already being cut by £86m just like many boroughs in England. Even if the Local Council decided to sell an ‘Old Peoples Home’ this year, what are they selling next year or the year after?

Whilst communities up and down the country figure out how this can all be paid for, ‘King Tory’ and his friends are enjoying their Income Tax Cut and some are not even paying any taxes.

Written by Seema Chandwani and first published at Liberal Conspiracy

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