Taxes targeting the poor?
By Jim Scott
The cost of fuel and council tax bills are "pushing" people into debt, a charity which helps those on the breadline, have claimed. The debt relief charity, which offers advice to people facing debt problems, said as people fall behind on their bills, there doesn't seem to be any let-up from local authorities to help those struggling with council tax.
According to StepChange, the charity behind the claim, around 30 per cent of their clients claimed they were behind on their council tax. The charity said local authorities were chasing "aggressively" for collection of council tax arears. At present council tax bills are regarded a "priority" bill which means it must be paid, or serious consequences like debt collection could most likely follow.
Customers unable to pay their household bills, owed on average £999 in unpaid council tax and £1,260 on their gas and electric bills.
The Guardian report council tax should be "fair and progressive". Using the example of a £1,376 council tax bill for a Grade 2 listed seven-bedroom home in Westminster whilst a small bungalow in Nottingham has to pay the higher sum of £1,645 per year.
Last year it was revealed that the poorest 10 per cent of homes in Britain paid a higher percentage of income tax, including council tax, than the richest 10 per cent. The Independent reports that statistics revealed those in the bottom 10 per cent spent just under half their income on taxes.
Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust called for "sensible reforms" and said: "When the super-rich are paying less in taxes than their cleaners, you know something has gone disastrously wrong with our broken, regressive tax system.
"Time after time we see sensible reforms attacked and rejected in favour of tax cuts for billionaires. These do nothing for ordinary people struggling to keep a roof over their head."
But for those who cannot afford to pay council tax, the collection process in place is "medieval" and "adds insult to injury" for those suffering high levels of debt, an opinion piece in the Guardian comments. Figures also revealed that councils had used bailiffs to collect unpaid council tax 1.4 million times in the between 2016 and 2017. Meanwhile councils also took court action for the imprisonment of over 4,500 people, the Financial Times revealed.
Just weeks before the Conservative Conference in Birmingham, Labour leaders pleaded a "radical" reform of council tax to Theresa May. But there has been no specific mention of potential reductions for those in poor areas despite May pledging to end austerity in her conference on Wednesday.
As Thursday's annoucement that taxes and fuel prices were "pushing" people into debt. Only at the start of the week did energy supplier British Gas announce its second price hike this year for gas and electricity customers, The Money Saving Expert reports. In addition, British Gas was also recently criticised for charging its customers £895 per year for its boiler insurance, up from £740 in the year previous.