There should be far more rebellions like the one yesterday

A brief footnote to Stephen’s piece yesterday Government suffers defeat in Lords over ‘new poll tax’ changes to council tax benefits. Note what the rebellion was over:

An independent review of the changes to be carried out within three years of them being introduced.

Yup, that shocking idea that after a new policy is introduced, we should leave it a little while and then someone should go and take a look how it’s work. Revolutionary stuff, hey? It’s the sort of thing that should be the norm.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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  • James Sandbach 23rd Oct '12 - 1:32pm

    YES. But what good is a review when the policy is pants in the first place – I don’t think many people have realised the implications of the CBT changes. We can expect the number of liability orders for unpaid council tax to double from around 2 million 4 million as a result of the Local Government Finance Bill. In May 2012 there were 5.92m Council Tax Benefit claimants; the majority will be paying 8.5% from April 2013 and 20% of the CT from 2014. A liability order adds up to £120 to the Council Tax debt and then the bailiffs add their fees when they are despatched to the defaulters. There will be a large increase in debtors and a lot of misery. We need to recognise the causes of council tax arrears, these will increase as household incomes are stretched, especially if you consider the move from RPI to CPI, the housing benefit caps, the bedroom tax, the £500 cap on all benefits and the total inadequacy of the adult JSA/UC, which will be broadly similar, currently £71 a week for a single adult and £111.45 for a couple; so 4 million liability orders might be an underestimate. The local authorities, the magistrates courts and advice services are already swamped with council tax arrears problems, and could be overwhelmed. The bailiff companies will make a nice little profit from the misery..

  • Bill le Breton 23rd Oct '12 - 2:08pm

    You have summed it up well James. I don’t think the people who propose these ideas have any sense of what juggling a household budget at these levels must be like and the consequences for the individual, the family, the neighbourhood of these increases. It is the ghost of NIck Ridley returning and it can only get through with Lib Dem support.

    This is part of a systematic attack on the culture of the least well off in our society.

  • I agree with the above. It is a seriously flawed and illiberal piece of policy so why introduce it in the first place? It will cost more time and money for all involved!

  • I’d like a review in three years time into the benefits of having not introduced this :-)

  • Well said James. We see this as one of the most dangerous savings taken by the Government in terms of long term impact. Even worse than the 10% cut is the fact that pensioners are protected. They form roughly half of council tax benefit recipients (in income terms) so the cut to be implemented on the remaining claimants averages at 20%. Why are pensioners any less able to pay small amounts than the other groups affected here? They have protected bus passes, assistance with fuel payments and TV licences for older pensioners, and have not borne the front-line of the cuts in the same way as younger generations (and you could make the argument that they bear greater responsibility for the financial crisis than those who are being targeted.) Why are they being given a special exemption when such a tough saving is being required from everyone else? All in this together?

  • Of course with Lib Dems in Government there shouldn’t be a need for it to be a rebellion, just build the reviews in at the drafting stage….

  • I agree with the article 100% but I object to the use of Ches face as a visual pun for revolution.
    Che Guevara was a terrorist, a mass murderer & was partly in charge of setting up the castro regimes network of prison camps & torture chambers. He was a nasty peice of work who has been made into a sort of saint & advertising icon for the innocent young.

  • James Sandbach has spelled out the reality of this deeply flawed policy. It is already clear that it will cost considerably more to enforce collection of arrears which , while tough on individuals, will be small in terms of collectivity. Many Councils are already planning for writing off a large proportion as the only sensible option.

    How daft – and at the same time cruel – can a policy be? Why have the Lib Dem members allowed it through?

  • James Sandbach 25th Oct '12 - 11:20am
  • I agree with James Barker: as liberals we should not be glorifying that icon of the extremist illiberal left.

  • I meant Paul Barker!

  • Top Papworth: your Human Rights Foundation link doesn’t work

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