“CTS Court Summons near half a million”

Hundreds of thousands of people have been taken to court in England for non-payment of council tax owing to benefit changes, according to the Labour Party.

Labour said 112 English councils had reported issuing 156,000 court summonses since April to people paying more tax as a result of the changes.

That meant 450,000 individuals may have been taken to court across the whole of England in six months, it claimed.



Council Tax Benefit cuts are forcing families “to choose between staying on the right side of the law or feed themselves”




"Responding to today’s claims by Labour that 450,000 people may have been issued with court summonses for non-payment of Council Tax since the abolition of that benefit in April, anti-poverty charity, Zacchaeus 2000 called for political leaders of all parties to do more to help vulnerable debtors from the “Poll Tax Mark 2”.

Joanna Kennedy Chief Executive of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust said:

“We welcome Labour shining a light on the problems caused for claimants since the Government’s abolition of Council Tax Benefit and 10 per cent cut in funding.  However, it is not the case that councils themselves can do nothing to help those people affected.  In London, several local authorities – Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Merton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster have all decided against passing this cut on to local people.”

“Just like the original Poll Tax, hundreds of thousands of people on very low incomes are being dragged to court because they can’t pay this extra tax from their Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support.  Weighing people down with court costs on top of the Council Tax is simply driving them into the arms of payday lenders to avoid bailiffs turning up on their doorstep.  Z2K advisors helping individual clients in court have been shocked to see hundreds of other people in the queue.”

“This disastrous policy needs to be urgently rethought by ministers.  And Labour itself should make an unambiguous commitment to return to a fully-funded national system of Council Tax Benefit.  In the meantime, while we appreciate the financial pressures they are under as a result of the Government’s funding cuts, we call on local authorities to think again about the impact of their decision to pass this cut on to low income people and withdraw the threat of legal enforcement.”

Case Study

“Karen” came to one of Zacchaeus 2000 Trust’s advice sessions in August.  She is a vulnerable woman suffering from severe depression. She receives Income Support with the Disability Premium due to her illness, and until April, she also got Council Tax Benefit.  But now, as a result of the Government’s decision to abolish CTB and her local council’s decision to charge 19 per cent, she has to pay £180 a year.  After failing to keep up with those instalments, she was sent a court summons and now has to pay an extra £90 on top.  Karen simply doesn’t have that kind of money.  After paying for food, utilities and other essentials she has nothing left over from her benefits".