Unite Community is holding a mass protest at Camberwell magistrates court in Southwark at 09:00 tomorrow (Friday 18 October), to highlight the injustice of thousands of residents being summonsed to court for non-payment of council tax.
Southwark council has issued court summons to 5,800 residents who have fallen into council tax arrears, as a result of changes to council tax benefit.
The government’s decision to abolish council tax benefit has meant that millions of people on low incomes, who were previously exempt from paying council tax, have to pay for the first time.
These changes have resulted in arrears for many thousands of Southwark residents. Unite is calling on local authorities to make a stand and not pass on to its residents the 10 per cent deduction in the central government grant for council tax.
London-based debt charity the Zacchaeus Trust (Z2K) will be present at the court to provide advocacy and advice to people who have fallen in to council tax arrears.
Pilgrim Tucker, Unite community coordinator, said: “The Tory government’s decision to cut council tax benefit is devastating the lives of thousands of people across London, who are trying to survive on unmanageably low incomes.
“We know councils face difficult decisions, but we are calling on Southwark council to make a stand and not punish residents who simply do not have the money available to pay these bills. Many of these families face an impossible choice this winter, between paying their bills and feeding their families.
“Merton, a fellow south London council, has found a way of absorbing the cuts, so we are calling on Southwark to try and do the same.
“The government’s callous decision to remove the council tax support from people who are struggling, has pushed millions into debt. It needs to be reversed, now.”
For further information about this event, please contact Pilgrim Tucker on 07970 126 249
Notes to editors:
More information on the cuts to council tax benefit can be found at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/timelineofimportantwelfarebenefitchangesaffectingcommunitymembers201213/counciltaxbenefitctbchanges/
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.