Shocking details are emerging of how bungled Council Tax Benefit reforms mean that an unemployed tenant in Essex could now pay more in Council Tax than a millionaire living in a half a million pound luxury Kensington pad.
Council Tax Benefit this month became Local Council Tax Support (LCTS). Under the new system Local Authorities can now set their own criteria for the benefit and face a cut of 10% in the amount they can allocate in Council Tax reductions to their poorest residents. How that cut is achieved has been left largely up to them, with the sole condition they must not cut benefits for pensioners. Most have made the decision to charge all residents, including those on benefits, low wages, disabled people and single parents, a small weekly fee towards Council Tax of between £3 and £7.
The Tory controlled Tendring Borough Council in Essex have gone one step further and made the decision that some claimants - including many of those on the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance – will not be entitled to any Council Tax Benefit at all.
Only those who have been resident in the borough for over five years will automatically be eligible for help towards Council Tax bills should they become unable to work for any reason. Whilst people made ‘redundant’ will be allocated some short term support (six months), along with squaddies, those fleeing domestic violence and the most severely sick or disabled people, the vast majority of recently arrived claimants will face full Council Tax rates.
This means should someone affected by the residency criteria become unemployed, or too sick to work, then they could find themselves paying more for a small Essex Band B flat (£855.75 annually) than the plush Band D two bedroom flat in fashionable Kensington & Chelsea pictured above which would come in at around £857.32.
Even those affected in Band A properties will face a bill of around £15 a week. Tendril’s newly socially housed residents who are also hit by the bedroom tax could now see just under half of a weekly Job Seekers Allowance claim of £71.70 a week being spend on tax and rent. For those under 25 in the same boat the situation will be even more acute, leaving claimants with around £25 a week to live on.
Life-long residents of Tendril will also not be spared if they are unable to find a job quick enough. Anyone in the borough who has been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for over three years will now be eligible to pay 35% of their Council Tax bill.
It is likely that Tendril have spotted the impact of the mass economic expulsion of London’s poor and are sending a message that unemployed, sick or disabled people are not welcome in their part of the world. With councils now given free reign to make life near impossible for claimants, those forced to move from London due to the benefit caps may find there is eventually nowhere left to go. They will be joined on the road by anyone foolish enough to move to Tendril in the last five years and then found themselves out of work.
Ultimately these changes will be imposed by violence. Claimants who refuse to leave their London homes will be physically evicted. Claimants in Tendril who won’t or can’t pay the Council Tax bill will face prosecution and possibly prison. In a 21st century Western democracy (stop laughing) social cleansing has no need for bullets or bayonets. Jails, bailiffs and impossible to pay bills are the weapons of choice.
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid