“Poll tax mark two”; a bonanza for the bailiffs



New figures revealed by Freedom of Information requests show that 400,000 people have had liability orders imposed by the courts, while 70,000 of these have had letters from bailiffs.


It was already known that 2.3 million people have received higher bills, with 600,000 of those in arrears. Some 500,000 have been issued with court summons for non-payment of council tax.


The scale of the cut and the inability of those vulnerable households to pay has led to it being described as "poll tax mark II", with queues outside courts of people unable to fund the extra cost, which can be hundreds of pounds a year. Even Lord Jenkin of Roding, who devised the original poll tax under Margaret Thatcher, has compared the new council tax benefit cut with the disastrous 1990 poll tax policy.


Labour issued Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all councils in England. Local authorities in Wales and Scotland are unaffected by the cuts. Some 208 councils responded, of whom 143 provided figures. The statistics showed that 30,761 people have been issued with bailiff notices. If this number were extrapolated across England, it would mean up to 70,000 people are affected.


A recent estimate by the Resolution Foundation think tank suggested that the average increase in council tax was between £100 and £250 a year, but for some the extra annual bill has been as much as £600.


The FOI requests revealed that 394,000 disabled people have faced an increase in council tax, including 117,000 in receipt of severe or enhanced disability premiums. Some 2,900 war widows or Armed Forces veterans face increases. Many of those affected are also hit by cuts to housing benefit, or bedroom tax.