Non-payment advice

I produced the leaflet with the text below providing advice for non-payment of both the bedroom tax and new poll tax (attacks on council tax benefit) before the initial meeting of Middleton & Rochdale Against the Bedroom Tax (for details of further meetings, lobbies and demonstrations in the Greater Manchester area, go to http://www.nobedroomtax.co.uk) and handed it out in Rochdale town centre. I first handed it out outside the job centre, and after a while a G4S security guard insisted I move from the doorway, saying it was their property. Silly me, I thought it belonged to the state (i.e. you and me)! I moved a small distance away and he hassled me again asking me to go somewhere else. I said he could call the police if he wanted to – I wasn’t scared! A nicer security guard eventually recommended me moving to the shopping area, which I thought was a good idea then since it wasn’t very busy (and most of those leaving I’d leafletted on the way in).

Anyway, I thought it worthwhile to pass on advice to other campaigners and non-payers. I’ve already posted the contents of the leaflet to various places on Facebook, but I’m posting it here for the benefit of those who read my blog – or get a leaflet containing the lyrics of my song “The New Poll Tax” (see http://soundcloud.com/fruity-frank), to which I’m putting a link to this blog entry.

The contents of the leaflet (after details of the meeting) were as follows:

Can’t pay the bedroom tax – won’t move – no evictions!

The “spare room subsidy” as the Con-Dems have called the bedroom tax, introduced on 1 April, is plunging many of the poorest people in the UK into even greater poverty. One spare room means housing benefit is reduced by 14%, two or more means 25%. There simply aren’t enough one-bedroom flats for those who would choose to move. Most households affected have at least one person in work. Children whose parents have split up or who want to occasionally visit a grandparent will be hit. Disabled people are disproportionately attacked (and face additional attacks on benefits as well). The government has already backtracked a bit – we can force them to axe the tax completely with protests against it.

If you don’t pay the bedroom tax, you will eventually be taken to court. Greater Manchester Against the Bedroom Tax, which links together anti-bedroom tax campaigns in the area, will be training up McKenzie friends to provide free advice to non-payers, like we did in the anti-poll tax campaign, in time for October when most people affected will appear in court. If you are already in arrears with your rent, this could happen sooner; if so, see our website below for solicitors’ details.

If you get an eviction order, you can get legal aid, and put in a new appeal to delay the date when it would occur; if thousands do it, we can clog up the system!

We will mobilise people, through telephone trees, outside people’s houses when they are threatened with eviction, like we did successfully with the bailiff busters in the anti-poll tax campaign. A high-profile victory in an early attempt to evict someone could transform the political situation!

Most politicians have said that, in the event that people are evicted due to the bedroom tax, they will regard them as “unintentionally homeless”, and therefore have a duty to rehouse them. However, this could prove very costly (a main reason why the bedroom tax is a foolhardy exercise that could cost more to implement than it saves) so we must keep the pressure up to ensure that they stay true to their promises.

This is just an outline, written by Steve Wallis, based on a legal briefing at a Greater Manchester Against the Bedroom Tax meeting. For more advice, see our website below.

Can’t pay the “new poll tax” – won’t pay!

The bedroom tax has received much more publicity in the media than the attacks on council tax benefits (the “new poll tax”) – which mean that nearly everyone would have to pay up to 30% towards their council tax, except where councils absorb reductions in money from central government by decimating services. In Rochdale, claimants need to pay 25% (if they are in a Band A property).

Like with the bedroom tax, McKenzie friends will support you in court if you don’t pay the  new poll tax (or for solicitors’ details see the website below).

If they get a court order, they can use bailiffs.  Remember that they do not have the right to force their way in (except through an open window or with bedroom tax evictions) to assess goods that could be removed to pay the debt. If the bailiffs return to remove your goods, let us know and we will mobilise with telephone trees.

We defeated Thatcher’s poll tax through mass non-payment; we can do the same with these two taxes!

http://www.nobedroomtax.co.uk

Disclaimer: The above does not constitute legal advice. I am not a lawyer – you may want to consult one, a Citizen’s Advice Bureau or one of the organisations I’ve posted in a comment (regarding McKenzie friends).

9 thoughts on “Non-payment advice

  1. We were informed by a lawyer working in the field at the legal briefing meeting I mentioned above that legal aid is still available for those facing imminent eviction. We will use McKenzie friends like in the mass non-payment campaign that defeated Thatcher’s poll tax to advise non-payers in court.

  2. are there any mcKenzie friends in the Blackpool area, i myself am NOT going to pay the council tax and i know of a lot of others who are not going to pay either of the taxes, i am disabled and receive high rate mobility which im told cant be taken into account as an income, what is likely happen when i dont pay, ive already received a reminder letter to pay by 21st May, any feedback would be much appreceiated.

  3. are there any mckenzie friends in teesside, i am in court in 2 weeks, notified by summons, one month behind in new poll tax payment system, for a paltry £22 i am in court for not paying services till 2014, a year ahead. what a crazy system this is, any help would be appreciated.

  4. Sorry, I’ve searched on-line to see where McKenzie friends can help people in court, and Blackpool or Teeside aren’t yet supported.

    The Personal Support Unit (http://thepsu.org/get-help/) operates in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester, and the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (http://z2k.org/our-work/mckenzie-friends/) operates in London.

    These seem to be the only organisations currently providing McKenzie friends in the UK (except for unrelated issues such as domestic violence or people seeking asylum). If anybody knows of anyone else, please post such information here.

  5. The website I linked to for Greater Manchester against the Bedroom Tax, incidentally run by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), http://www.nobedroomtax.co.uk, is “work in progress” and takes a lot of time and effort to update, according to the webmaster – well, that’s the excuse for hiding the details of solicitors who can provide free legal advice on the page (and misspelling “Free” as “Fee” implying you need to pay) deep on one page, and for not updating the “Legal Advice” page (for which there is a tab at the top) to include the details when I asked him to do so.

    The two firms that can help for free are as follows (and it’s worth giving them a ring wherever you live – they probably won’t be able to help you in court but they could help you over the phone):

    Stephensons
    South Manchester, Salford, Trafford
    01942 777 777

    Platt Halpern
    Oldham, Rusholme, Wythenshawe
    0161 224 2555

  6. The Socialist Party has produced an excellent “Know your rights” sheet entitled “We can beat the bedroom tax” as a supplement to issue 770 of their newspaper “The Socialist”, produced for the 4,000-strong People’s Assembly Against Austerity in London (which I will incidentally report on soon on this blog and in a new edition of Revolutionary Platform News). Read the contents in HTML at http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16928 (or click on a link to yield a PDF file).

    An article in Socialist Worker, the newspaper of the SWP, reports on a victory achieved by anti-bedroom tax campaigners in Manchester in the first attempted bedroom tax eviction. Ella Lorelle, a mature student with a son in a local school, was several hundred pounds in debt, in part due to the bedroom tax. Her housing association was demanding payment in full which she had no way of paying. With the help of a McKenzie’s friend, the court accepted a token payment. Read the article at
    http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/33629/Campaign+halts+first+bedroom+tax+eviction

  7. Pingback: @Ed_Miliband says Labour will abolish bedroom tax the day after I question @HarrietHarman on it on @bbcquestiontime | ThatcheroftheLeft

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