Tuesday, 17 December 2013

First Eviction Court Cases

Picture credit: Vicki Morris

The first people to be taken to court by Labour led Nottingham City Council for rent arrears caused by the Bedroom Tax had hearings on Thursday 21 November at Nottingham Crown Court. 

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign, which includes several Socialist Party members, organised a protest outside the court to demand that the Labour run city council implement a no-evictions policy. 25 people came to protest and show solidarity. The local TV crews covered the protest and the issue was discussed on local BBC radio throughout the day. Members of our campaign were interviewed.

Some of us went into the court building but, following objections from Nottingham City Council, the public were not allowed into the court hearings. We understand that the Council argued that each case would only take 3 minutes so there was no point in having the public present! There were 20 possession hearings listed for the day (we believe 6 concerned the Bedroom Tax). After more than half an hour only two cases had been heard. Our campaign member had their case adjourned because the Council could not explain the amount that was being deducted from their Housing benefit and because they had not yet applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

From talking to others waiting to go into court, it appears that instead of using possession hearings as a last resort, the council are calling people to court before they have even looked properly at their situation. (eg. One person had proof they were not underoccupied). This means that the council are not following the legal process that applies to social housing landlords.

Most of the people waiting did not have legal representation, and were offered a 5 minute meeting with the duty solicitor. The duty solicitor does not represent people in court and, from one person's feedback, did not attempt to explore whether the council had followed the legal processes.

Issues: Campaigns need to pressurise courts and landlords to allow the public into court and if they don’t bring their actions to the attention of the public.
We need to highlight where Councils are using the court process to pressurise people.

We need to keep collating information so that we can support people coming to court without representation.

Scrap the bedroom Tax, Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign, Notts.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Bedroom Tax Campaign Protest 21st November 2013

If you are on Facebook, you can find out more about 
the Defend Council Tax Campaign by joining the group

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Council to use credit reference checks to identify council tax evasion

The scheme it being touted as a way of generating £1.1 Million additional income, they intend on paying £37.50 bonus to the credit reference agencies per fraudulent claim identified as claiming a single person discount by using credit reference checks on the property. 

On a personal note this to me is nothing short of invasion of privacy because I have been told by banks that your credit history is based on the named person residing at a particular address and appearing on the electoral roll and that you can’t get credit unless you appear on that electoral roll. So the council already has this data, so why are they paying a couple of companies to pry in to people’s lives.

Fact is that previous tenants can be listed as residing at a property as I found when I needed a bank account and couldn’t get one, I complained about this fact to the council and they informed me that they had 13 people listed as living at my address. As soon as the details of the previous tenants had been removed, I was able to apply for and obtain a bank account.

The sheer stupidity of this council is astounding and it makes me wonder if they can see the wood for the trees.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Response to Social Landlords by Campaign Group

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign response to Evictions Prevention Protocol

Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham Community Housing Association and ASRA Housing Group have signed up to an “Eviction Prevention Protocol” to prevent evictions caused by the Bedroom Tax.

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign opposes this protocol because:

  • It will not prevent evictions.
  • It does not offer anything to tenants which they could not access anyway.
  • It sets up tenants to be blamed when evictions occur.
  • It abandons tenants who don’t “engage” when they may be the most vulnerable.
  • It uses vague terms such as “engaging” with housing providers and “realistic and affordable.” payment plans, without explaining who defines these terms and what they mean (ie. what is expected from tenants).
  • It puts too much emphasis on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), which are temporary, limited, and discretionary.
  • It presents the issue of financial hardship caused by the Bedroom Tax as an issue of budgeting, rather than the real issue, which is that people can only avoid rent arrears by using money which is meant for food, fuel, bills, clothes.  This implies that if eviction occurs it is the tenant’s fault.

The protocol says housing providers will request a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) for every tenant suffering financial hardship who “engages” with tenancy sustainment teams. 

  • The term “engaging” is not explained. What exactly is expected of tenants, and who decides whether tenants are “engaging” or not? Many tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax are some of the most vulnerable people in society, who may lack the support to be able to deal with the additional stress caused by the Bedroom Tax.
  • Tenants are already free to request DHPs themselves or through advice agencies and there is no guarantee that requesting a DHP will mean a tenant will receive one. Some tenants have received a DHP in repect of bedroom tax arrears while others have been refused. Furthermore, DHPs are temporary so tenants have to apply repeatedly with all the uncertainty that entails.

The agreement states that Credit Union accounts which help tenants to prioritise rent and other bills are also being offered to tenants facing court action. 

  • All tenants are already free to open Credit Union accounts – at a cost of 50p per month – so the agreement is not offering anything new.
  • The protocol states that affected tenants will be expected to set up and keep to an affordable payment plan.
  • A tenant in Bedroom Tax arrears faces a weekly demand for rent which they cannot afford. The protocol does not explain how such a tenant would suddenly be able to afford a payment plan to pay off their bedroom tax debt.
  • The protocol does not acknowledge that arrears would continue to accumulate since the bedroom tax is ongoing and that this would lead to eviction. 

The protocol does not acknowledge the extreme emotional and monetary hardship being experienced by those households who are not yet in arrears. Households can only pay bedroom tax by cutting down on food, fuel, transport, clothes etc.  We know of households who are experiencing extreme hardship and poverty – the protocol does not address this.

By emphasising budgeting, priorities and advice the protocol implies that bedroom tax arrears is caused by tenants’ inability to budget and lack of information. This is clearly not the case. Arrears are caused by tenants being asked to pay towards rent (and council tax) from living expenses meant for food, fuel, clothes, transport etc.  Budgeting solutions are unsustainable and set up tenants to fail and be blamed, putting huge pressure on households and leading to evictions. 

The social health and monetary costs of the Bedroom Tax, which are hitting vulnerable households, communities and the social housing sector, are unacceptable and unsustainable. A recent UN report says that the Bedroom Tax may be a violation of human rights, and the Labour Party have now announced that they will abolish the Bedroom Tax. In view of this, the only effective way of protecting households from eviction is for the council to use its position to implement a no evictions policy and to encourage other social housing providers to do the same.

Nottingham Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign calls on Nottingham City Council and all Nottingham Social Housing Providers to:

  • Publicly state that they will not evict anyone because of Bedroom Tax arrears.
  • Recall all notices of seeking possession and eviction notices relating to bedroom tax arrears.
  • Acknowledge that Bedroom Tax arrears are not caused by tenants inability to budget.
  • Use all of its DHP budget (including reserves it is permitted to use) to reduce Bedroom Tax arrears (at August 2013 only one fifth of the budget had been used).

With other social landlords and campaigners persistently explain and publicise the social and monetary costs and unsustainability of the Bedroom Tax to Central Government.

Demand that Central Government take responsibility for this policy and the potential damage to the social housing sector, by demanding it makes up the shortfall in rental income to social housing providers caused by bedroom tax arrears. Demand that Central Government abolish the bedroom tax. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Abolition of Bedroom Tax Promise

With the abolition of "Bedroom Tax" as a promise in the latest announcement made by Ed Miliband about the bedroom tax stating that Labour say that they are going to abolish Bedroom Tax, Councils should have a "no eviction policy" and use their position to stop evictions.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Bedroom Tax & Council Tax Campaign Council Lobby


There are 2 meetings planned in Nottingham:

St Anns

Tuesday 10 September 7pm

Chase Neighbourhood Centre,
Robin Hood Chase

St Anns


Wednesday 11 September 7pm

Park Gate Community Centre
Chamberlain Close (Off Nobel Road) 
NG11 8RX

Campaigning, Information & Support

All Welcome.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Lobby Council

Recently we saw the campaign group lobby the full City Council meeting over the bedroom tax.

Large numbers of people who through the new so called welfare reforms are told they have too many bedrooms and disgracefully are having their benefit cut.

This was a successful lobby and kept the bedroom tax on the agenda with Nottingham City Homes.

The news item aired by the BBC on East Midlands today carried an interview by one of the members of the campaign as well as a local woman who is having to give up her home whilst her son is away at college. Both the interviews showed how these reforms were affecting people because of a shortage of single room properties not only in Nottingham but the whole country.

The lobby itself attracted a lot of attention from members of the public who signed the petition against bedroom tax, many who signed disagreed with the bedroom tax even though they were not directly affected.

The lobby had support from Greg Marshall from neighbouring Broxtowe Borough who is councillor for Beeston West as well is support from local trade unionists from the Communication Workers Union, Unison and the Civil Sevice union, the PCS.

If you are affected by the bedroom tax and would like further information, help or advice, the defend Council tax benefits campaign are holding the group meeting at 7pm on 20th of August 2013 at the Chase neighbourhood centre, St Anns where people can come and discuss issues they are facing and get help and support from people who are also facing the bedroom tax problem.
Links to Trades Council photos of the lobby and a meeting in Mansfield below



In Solidarity

Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign Group.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Where to get advice

Here is a list of welfare advice centres for the Nottingham City Area

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Lobby Council at full council meeting 8th July

If you want to take part, please turn up on the day.

Letter to Council Challenging Reduction of Housing Benefits

If you want to challenge the council on the under occupancy, AKA Bedroom Tax, here are two template letters asking for further information and also a follow up letter template should you get no response.

The first letter template to use that you send to the council is to request information.

If you get no reply from the council then your next step is to follow up that letter with a complaint to the council for failing to respond to your first letter.

You should keep a copy of both letters you send and it is advisable that you obtain from the post office a proof of postage if you do not send the letter as recorded delivery.

Failure to respond, the template below is used for when your request has not been complied with.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Local Action Meeting for 

Council Tax and Bedroom Tax Debts

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

CTB Information Meetings

Unable to pay your 
Council Tax Bill?
Worried about getting 
into council tax debt?

Want to build solidarity with other claimants to fight these cuts?

CTB Information Meetings
information, support, campaign
Every 2 weeks starting Thursday March 21, 7pm

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefit Campaign is running regular sessions in the city centre from Thursday 21 March to monitor the impact of Council Tax Benefit cuts, provide information to people who may not be able to pay their bills and invite them to join the campaign.

The Government has scrapped the national Council Tax Benefit scheme and from 1st April this year local councils have to start their own scheme with less money. Under Nottingham City’s new Council Tax Support Scheme, council tax benefit is being cut by 8.5% for all working age claimants and from April 2014, Nottingham City Council proposes a cut of 20%.

Council tax bills are arriving on peoples’ doorsteps this month causing anger, anxiety and distress as many claimants already on the breadline are being asked to pay amounts they can’t afford.  The cuts affect people on low incomes, in part time work, unemployed or unable to work because of sickness (pensioners are not affected at the present time) 

This is not an individual problem for claimants, we need to build solidarity to support people who can’t pay and build a campaign to fight these cuts. 

The sessions are:
7pm Thursday 21 March and every alternate Thursday
International Community Centre
Mansfield Road
For more information (and to check re holidays etc.) contact:

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign on 07505 135 807 

You can find us on facebook and twitter

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Council Tax Notices

Council sends out notices

As the day draws nearer to the change in the council tax system, people are starting to receive notices like these.

You will note that there's no mention of the discretionary housing payments in the letter despite raising the matter directly with Lisa Black that the council has a duty to make the client aware of the DHP scheme should the client have a problem meeting the increased costs with these changes.

Readers of this blog will know that in January members of the campaign group met with executives of Nottingham City Council to voice concerns over the proposed cuts and reaffirm the campaigns position that the council should not only be fighting the cuts but they should also not be passing any cuts on to those who are on low incomes and welfare benefits.

Despite the hardship that people are facing, the council still raised the Council Tax by 3.4% and the housing costs also rose by a staggering 22% which will further compound the problem when the Bedroom Tax comes fully in to force.

I fail to see how increasing the basic costs of housing is trying to reduce the financial impact on households, if anything, a freeze in these costs would have limited these costs.

The Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign are opposed to the welfare changes and believe that a fully funded welfare system should be in place. Despite putting this point of view across to the council in a meeting with council executives in January 2013, the council claimed that it has no choice in the matter.

We asked why the council can't use some of the reserves to plug the shortfall but we were told that they can't use the reserves. 

The council are all too willing to pass these cuts on to the poorest in society while claiming that they don't like these cuts but have not choice in the matter. 

Some councils (mainly Tory run councils) are not passing on any cuts arising from the cuts in the welfare system as well as the Welsh Government who have found the £22 Million short fall for its citizens, if other councils are able to find money to plug these shortfalls why not Nottingham City Council?

If you want further information on how these changes may or are going to affect you, please come along to one of our fortnightly meetings. Contact details can be found here: http://defendcounciltaxbenefits.blogspot.co.uk/p/where-to-find-us.html 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions posed to full council meeting

Campaign members submitted some questions that were answered at the full council meeting on 28th January

We received the answers in the minutes of the meeting recently, we would appreciate any comments that you may have on the answers made by the city council.

Questions from citizens

Council Tax Support Scheme 

The following questions were asked by Mr Mark Giblin to the Deputy Leader:

(a) The City Council’s proposed Council Tax Scheme means that people who are already finding they have no money just before their next wage or benefit payment will be unable to pay Council Tax and will end up in debt causing poverty and distress. Is the Council intending to pursue debts when the cost of pursuing them is greater than the amount of the debt?

Councillor Chapman replied as follows:

First, let me correct the assumption in the question that the Scheme is somehow the City Council’s Scheme, the Scheme has been thrust upon us by central government and we are against this Scheme. It is badly thought out, it is unfair, and it will cause serious problems which the Council will have to manage.

We have, however, as a Council to provide a version of the Scheme where we have tried to bring as much fairness into the measure as possible when dealing with an intrinsically unfair measure. Nevertheless, we will have to collect the money, and we will be pursuing non-collection, we have no option. Council Tax payers are and will continue to be provided with a range of payment dates that suit their needs, taking into account different times that they receive their household incomes. This includes weekly, fortnightly, monthly and over a 10 to 12 month period.

Although the Council will actively pursue any outstanding Council Tax amount, it does recognise that more people with small amounts of money to pay may fall into debt. It is inevitable. First, unlike many councils, we have not reduced our Benefit Advice Service; indeed, we are looking to put more resources in. We have also reviewed our position for recovery of small debts with a view to reducing the risk of high court costs for these debts, while ensuring it can take appropriate action to support payment at the earliest possible stage. We are training up volunteers and working with the advice sector to ensure maximum support in the circumstances. We are also supporting Credit Unions to put people in their direction, instead of moving into the direction of loan sharks, which is another high risk. So we are doing what we can, but we will have to collect the money.

(b) Why is it that this Council finds it hard to find the funding to cover these welfare cuts yet the welsh government finds funding of £22 million to cover the shortfall in recipients benefits, this is over 3½ times what is touted as the shortfall in Nottingham.

Councillor Chapman replied as follows:

Well, the first answer is the Welsh government is a government and we are a council. Now, I could stop there, but it would be somewhat facetious.

The simple reason is the Welsh government has access to 56 times the settlement that Nottingham has. Its budget is £15.1 billion and, oh to have access to £15.1 billion. However, our net budget is £270 million, not billion, million. As a consequence, £22 million is only 0.15% of the Welsh budget. Nottingham, however, has found £3.2 million to offset the effect, which is 1.2% of our budget. So, in terms of budget size, we have made 8 times greater contribution than the Welsh government, and far more than similar councils, we are just not big enough to cover the whole amount. Moreover, £2.2 million of our contribution is ongoing and will continue, the £22 million from the Welsh government comes from reserves and there is doubt whether it will be able to continue to keep pumping reserves in year on year to cover the cost, so, at least there is some continuity in some of our funding.

(c) Will the new system for Council Tax and Housing Benefits be synchronised with the roll out of Universal Credit as and when the claimant is moved on to the benefit? Or will claimants have to be subjected to two bouts of changes in their welfare benefits?
Councillor Chapman replied as follows:

Well I wish I knew. It is unclear at this stage how or when Universal Credit will be implemented in Nottingham. The government intends Housing Benefit to be part of the Universal Credit system, which I believe is a mistake, administered by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP). We will, where we are able to, work to ensure that any local schemes administered by the local authority, work in line with other government systems. We are, however, entirely dependent on what the DWP provide local authorities access to, and this is still, even at this stage, not clear.

Like many authorities, Nottingham does not understand why the government decided to pass responsibility for help with Council Tax to local authorities, rather than integrate it into Universal Credit.

As a consequence, local authorities have faced an unprecedented task in designing their own local Council Tax Support Schemes while facing a significant reduction in central government funding and preparing for launch in April 2013.

There will be a wide range of Council Tax Support Schemes that differ across local authorities, which may well be confusing for citizens. These local schemes will sit alongside a number of other benefit changes happening at the same time which is likely to add to confusion and hardship for citizens. So, not only are they going to get hit unfairly, they’re going to end up with a difficult system to manage which will make the situation even worse.

Choosing to not integrate Council Tax Support with Universal Credit may well undermine the overall policy intent of Universal Credit, especially in relation to simplification and improving incentives to work. And, in the longer term, separating the claims process for Council Tax Support and housing costs, which go to Universal Credit, may well cause further confusion for citizens. In other words, it is a mess. I personally do not think the system or the IT will be ready on time and I told the parliamentary Select Committee precisely that when I went down the other week.

Council Tax Support Scheme

The following question was asked by Mr Geraint Thomas to the Deputy Leader:

The Council refer to their new Council Tax Support Scheme as “sustainable”. Reducing the Council Tax Benefit of some of the poorest people in the City so that individuals and families will have even less money than the amount they need to live on will clearly lead to poverty, distress and hardship and will cause a greater demand on services that themselves face cuts to funding. Thinking about the long term effect on the people of Nottingham, this is not “sustainable”. Why does the City Council not use some of the Council’s non-earmarked allocated reserves of £9.6 million to avoid cutting the level of support for Council Tax Benefit recipients and use the forthcoming year to mobilise a campaign locally and nationally to demand a fully funded Council Tax Support Scheme?

Councillor Chapman replied as follows:

The simple answer is that we are, as a Council, using reserves to avoid cutting the level of support. We are also abolishing the discount on empty homes. Were it not for our use of reserves and the government subsidy it attracts, those that are receiving 100% rebate today, would be facing a 20% reduction this year. As it is, the reduction will be between 8 and 9%. Were it not for our abolition of the empty property discount, all non pensioners on benefits would be paying around 35%, not 20%, Council Tax. So we have done what we can with a diminishing council budget. The income from the empty property rate will continue to be applied and we cannot guarantee the contribution from reserve, other than for one year. We have the elderly to look after; we have children to cater for, we are hoping, however, by then that the government will be pressured into back tracking when it sees the consequences of its actions.

In terms of lobbying activity, we have clearly stated our opposition locally and nationally to the government’s decision to abolish Council Tax Benefit, and on 10 September this very Council carried a motion which deplored these measures. We have also lobbied MPs regularly. I have email and text exchanges with Liam Byrne, who is the Labour Shadow Minister, and hope that we have helped ensure the Labour Party’s opposition to these cuts, and it was a principled opposition to the cuts, in Parliament this month, and I am very proud of the Labour Party for that. We are currently doing a round of public consultation on the budget and on benefits showing our opposition. Every member of the Executive is participating in that process and every time we are talking to people about how unfair the benefits system is. We have put out press releases, we have set up 3 slots of TV coverage, the Politics Show last week was a result of a suggestion we made. We have met Lord Freud and explained the problems he was creating. This has not resulted in a change of direction, unsurprisingly, but we did get a scrap from it in the form of expanded emergency funding, because I think it pricked his conscience, and I also think he came out a bit more frightened than when he came in and the consequences of what he was doing.

Finally, because of our response to the legislation, we were one of the few councils invited to give evidence to the Select Committee on Benefits, where we made our opposition very clear. Nor have we finished. We will continue to bring forward cases of injustice, and there will be many, and inefficiency, and there will be many. We will continue to lobby both within our Party, and the government, and we will continue to alert public opinion about the unfairness of the legislation. But, what we will not do is anything outside the law, or refuse to implement what would be an illegal act, quite simply because we recognise that were we to do that it would be highly divisive and it would be counter productive, and we would end up by handing the management of this Council over to the government, the very government that is keen to impose these cuts, as harshly as it possibly can.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Campign Lobby at Council House

The "Defend Council Tax Benefits" campaign were out lobbying on the 28th January 2013 outside the Council House in Market Square before the full council meeting.

Several of the campaign members braved the cold and windy weather to publicise the call for "No Cuts" to Council Tax benefits.

Before the full council meeting , two members of the campaign group met with executives from the city council to put forward arguments against the cuts and highlight the problems that people will face by passing on the cuts to the poorest in the community.

If you would like further information about the campaign, please email defendcounciltaxbenefits@yahoo.co.uk 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign

Statement on Nottingham City Council’s amended Council Tax Benefit Support Scheme.

The Government is proposing to abolish the national Council Tax Benefit scheme which is centrally funded and make all councils in England bring in their own scheme from April 2013 with less funding. In October, the government offered 12 months transitional funding based on a number of conditions, including an 8.5% cap on the level of Council Tax anyone currently receiving full Council Tax Benefit would have to pay.

Notts Defend Council Tax Benefits opposes the proposed abolition of Council Tax Benefit and its replacement by local Council Tax Schemes; campaigns for councils to refuse to pass on the cuts to its local community; supports those unable to pay their council tax due to the proposed changes; calls on councils not to pursue those who are unable to pay their Council tax due to the council's changes.

In the minutes of Nottingham City Council Meeting  on 18 December 2012, the City Council has stated their intention to apply for transitional funding from central government to supplement their Council Tax Support Scheme and have therefore changed their proposals for a Council Tax Benefit Support Scheme for 2013/14.  

Whilst the latest proposal is less harsh than the original proposal of having to pay at least 20% of Council Tax), Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign (NNDCTBC) opposes these new proposals. It should be noted that under the transitional funding rules, the council had the opportunity to avoid passing on any cut to everyone currently receiving full benefit. Furthermore, this represents a shift away from the existing (national) scheme where CTB was based on the minimum level which people need to live on. Now CTB will be based on the amount of funding central government decides to pay each year (a cut of approximately 15% in the City Council’s funding from 2012/2013 for next year and any increased demand for CTB e.g. due to job losses or reduced income such as from short time working, has to come from the pot of money already allocated by the government.

Greater need means less is available for each recipient and year on year, councils will be re-assessing their income and expected needs and looking how to make the savings. If councils give in this year, it will set a dangerous precedent, since if the government is successful in abolishing the national CTB scheme due to a lack of fight by local authorities, they will be free to make further cuts in the funding available in future. This could signal the end of Council Tax Benefit at an effective level.

Nottingham City Council is proposing the removal of empty property council tax discounts and exemptions to part fund the 2013/14 scheme.  No details of this have been provided.  Whilst no-one wants to see properties left uninhabited, there can be many reasons for empty properties – it is not just big private landlords and mortgage companies sitting on their properties – it can be homes that are unfit for habitation; or properties that people cannot sell due to the economic crisis, it can also impact people who are away from home because of caring and other family responsibilities or those  in residential care or hospital etc.

NNDCTBC opposes any blanket removal of empty property council tax discounts and exemptions because this will cause hardship and have a disproportionate impact on certain groups

Nottingham City Council is applying for transitional funding but is still cutting 8.5% from Council Tax Benefit for everyone, except pensioners who currently receives full benefit.  A couple in a Band A property (based on the 2012/13 Council Tax level) and in receipt of Income Support benefit would pay £1.75 per week under the 2013/14 CTSS rather than £4.13 per week under the original proposals and someone in a Band D property would pay £2.64 per week.  For households where there is regularly no money left at the end of the week or month this is still unaffordable and will cause hardship and debt.

Nottingham City Council is proposing setting a minimum award level. This means that anyone who would receive less than the 50p per week will lose their entitlement. If this is so, it is a petty, penny pinching approach. Once introduced, the threshold of the minimum award level can easily be increased in future years, as in Nottingham City Council’s proposal for 2014/15 of a minimum award level of £2 or £4 per week.

NNDCTBC  opposes all changes to Council Tax Benefit that are a detriment including the proposals that all working age people would have to pay at least 8.5% of their Council tax. We oppose the setting of a minimum award level.

Nottingham City Council intends to pursue its original proposals (apart from backdating) in 2014/15.. The Council is still proposing a 20% cut in CTB, reduction of the upper savings limit (from £16k to £6k) so anyone with savings above that is not entitled to Council Tax Support (CTS,) and CTS only being paid at a maximum of a Band B rate, regardless of the size of your property.

NNDCTBC  opposes all the proposed changes to Council Tax Benefit in 2014/15. We oppose the proposal that all working age households   should pay 20% of their Council Tax, we oppose the reduction in the savings limits and the changes proposed for the Second Adult rebate.

There is overwhelming opposition to cutting Council Tax Benefit in Nottingham. This was shown by the responses to a consultation by the City Council: 66% of respondents opposed the proposal to cut
CTB by 20%, and some of the  “key messages”[1] drawn from the consultation is that  the City Council should  to avoid cutting CTB altogether and the City Council should campaign against Government cuts (even though, from the way the consultation questions were framed, this was not presented as an alternative). 

The Council say a key feature of their intentions for 2014/15 is long-term sustainability,  however,  creating a  situation where people are unable to meet their council tax bills, causing debt and homelessness etc. is not a sustainable option, it will increase demand for other Council services and will cause long term damage to the social infrastructure.

As Councillor Jon Collins stated2:

 "This will have the same kind of impact on people that the poll tax did. Very simply because we will be having to collect small amounts of money from people who will struggle to pay it, who will therefore get into arrears”   "We will be forced to collect this money, which will add to their debts, and will end up in court, which will lead to further debts.”   "People will be unable to pay or refuse and court will be clogged up with people facing custodial sentences."

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign calls on the Council to commit to not pursuing people who cannot afford their Council Tax. We call on the local authority to make clear that it will carry out its fiduciary responsibilities by not pursuing those on low incomes including those at work because it would not be cost effective.

Nottingham City Council (and all other councils) should  refuse to pass on central government cuts on and Nottingham City Council should stand firm to pay Nottingham residents according to their benefit needs based on the existing system.  The only sustainable option is a fully funded scheme.

Nottingham City Council should use reserves to cover any shortfall and to buy time to build a mass campaign for properly funded councils and the return of monies lost due to reductions in central government funding. Nottingham City Council should stop using highly paid external consultants which costs millions of pounds.

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign request an urgent meeting with the Council to discuss the new proposals.

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Defend Council Tax Benefits Campaign

[1] Nottingham City Council have included the following “Key messages” in their report of the consultation:
·         The proposed scheme [is] unaffordable to some people and would unfairly penalise some people.
·         The Council should refuse to pass on the cuts and should campaign against Government cuts.
·         The Council should save money elsewhere or use other money to make up the shortfall in funding, although this may be a short term solution.