Posts Tagged 'Tax'

The Great Robbery Train rumbles along in Yorkshire

Once again, all bets are off once ‘government’ decides you have given offence by not paying the Council Tax they demand.

While ordinary people who fail to pay are considered law breakers, those who seek to hoover up our money continue to act in an illegal fashion, demonstrating that they refuse to be bound by the rule of law themselves.

We learn from the Darlington & Stockton Times that Hambleton District Council secured liability orders for non payment of Council Tax against 505 households, each being slapped with costs of £123.  Richmondshire secured 216 liability orders, again with costs to each household of £123 and a further 15 orders secured for non payment of business rates with costs for each of those imposed at £176.  Meanwhile Northallerton secured no less than 721 liability orders against households in its district – although the costs sought and awarded were not reported, we can make an educated guess that the same court also awarded those at £123 each.

We have no way of knowing if these cases are flat out refusals to pay, or whether the residents are experiencing financial hardship that makes it difficult or even impossible for them to pay.  But we can be sure that in each case the residents are being asked to pay ever more for ever fewer services, the quality of which are steadily declining.   We can also be sure that in this so-called democracy of ours, these residents have never been asked how much they think the councils should demand, or asked to give a mandate for how the authorities spend the monies collected.

In each case, the cost to the councils of securing a liability order from the court is £3.  Add on administration, postal charges and reasonable overheads and the figure would not exceed costs of £10 in total per case.  So in these 1,457 cases, councils which by law are only allowed to charge ‘costs reasonably incurred’ for liability orders to enforce council tax demands, have gone beyond what the law permits them to charge by around £113 in each and every case.

And the court, in allowing this to happen by not limiting the costs awarded to the councils to those ‘reasonably incurred’, have facilitated the law being broken.  As a result, in just one court sitting, over £164,000 of residents’ money to which councils are not entitled is being taken from residents illegally by a branch of the state, sanctioned by a court that has exceeded its authority by awarding costs far beyond what has been reasonably incurred.

We have returned to the age of the Robber Baron, where the serfs are fair game to be preyed upon and treated as cash cows by those who set aside the rules on a whim and break the law without sanction whenever it suit their own ends.  This is today’s establishment in action.  It is little different to the establishment of past centuries.  The only change is that people who are supposed to be our servants have morphed themselves into our modern slavers.  This is 21st Century Britain.

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Some Councils are on the verge of collapse, are they?

The FUD is in full flood today with the BBC faithfully reproducing, without any effort to question or challenge the assertions, claims that a number of local authorities are at risk of collapse as a result of cuts in central government funding.

Clearly bored (for the time being) of demonising companies who quite properly seek to minimise the tax they pay, Margaret Hodge has moved the Labour Party agenda on to eeevil reduction of central funding to local councils.

Never mind that councils now derive more income from the charges and fees they impose on residents than they collect in Council Tax.  Never mind that the budgets of local authorities are loaded with spending commitments on non-essential activities that have never been to voters for approval.  Never mind that the funds from central government that local authorities are being to work with are no lower than they were only several years ago.  Never mind that just before the end of each financial year departments are falling over themselves to spend money left in the budgets so they can claim the same amount or more in the next budget round.  No, the councils are apparently on the edge of catastrophe.

This is all about power.  Whoever controls the money wields the power.  The problem is, as I saw all too clearly when a councillor in a mid-sized authority, not only do voters have no say in how the money is spent, elected councillors often have little idea exactly how much and where money is being spent.

The proliferation of ‘cabinet’ run councils and devolved powers to council officers mean the elected members have little to no control over where the money goes.  To molify them, councils now give members a sum of money each year to spend within their ward on a local initiative – subject to approval.  In my local authority the Labour councillors in one ward pooled their money to fund a one-day festival for ethnic minorities.  Me and my fellow ward councillors pooled our money and used it to fund SmartWater being put on residents’  personal property in a burglary hotspot.

Thousands of pounds were spent across the borough each year, but not a penny could be spent on the essential services an authority should be providing.  Regardless of the utility or otherwise of the councillors’ decisions, the fact remains councils and councillors were focussed on discretionary spending.  By way of another anecdotal example, a nearby authority broke its own funding criteria to divert hundreds of thousands of pounds to a maintain a theatre that was failing because it didn’t offer anything that enthused residents to want to use it. At the same time funding for a local care home was reduced.  Another example saw the council stump up thousands of pounds for PCSOs to walk the streets, even though residents had already paid the policing precept to fund officers, meaning residents were paying twice of ‘police presence’ on the streets.  Yet another saw demands to fund NHS staff to help reduce teen pregnancies, even though the primary care trust had decided it wasn’t a sufficient priority for money from its own budget.  And everywhere, the sustainability agenda never goes without cash, as councils – regardless of what councillors or party groups say or want – follow the directives, regulations and whims of supranational entities.

These are not the actions of ‘Baron Hardup’ stuck in a dusty Chief Executive office, getting by on a frugal stipend.  Rather these are the actions of people who fancy themselves as businessmen, only without competition or risk, where they cut a dash on six figure salaries and half a million pound pension pots as they devise new ways to extract ever larger sums from residents under pain of prosecution.

The fact is councils have expanded their reach into far too many activities where government has no business, let alone being core to their remit of providing essential services.  Try to get a line item breakdown of all the spending and grants made by your authority and you will be made to jump through hoops before being told some of the information is confidential, with items hidden on ‘pink papers’ that are barred from public release, so you can’t even see how your money is spent in your name.

Scare stories from the Public Accounts Committee and the Local Government Association aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.  Local democracy is anything but, accountability is non existant, and to maintain their perceived control the councils are misleading people into thinking working this coming year with budgets that were perfectly fine five or so years ago is completely impossible and requires a raft of essential services that have been provided for decades to be cut.

These ‘cry wolf’ warnings are not financial, they are politically motivated and they have nothing to do with serving the interests of the residents.  It’s time residents woke up and started to challenge the deceptions of these thieves in suits.

The real story about those ‘mad’ town hall bigwigs

Casting an eye over the RightMinds section of the Daily Mail the other day, this blog post by Chris Moncrieff stood out.

The title was right on the money, but the content tells only a fraction of the story.  By focusing on Council Tax payments, it misses the really outrageous behaviours that show just how much residents are at the the mercy of the mini potentates and unaccountable officer corps who work to an anti democratic agenda and take their lead from EU regulations instead of voters.

There is no mention of the explosion of revenue raising activites that now account for nearly 50% of town hall revenue receipts.  There is no mention of councils exceeding their authority by charging more than ‘reasonable costs’ when issuing summonses and liability orders.

There is no mention of the imposition of frequently damaging and increasingly expensive parking controls around shopping areas, designed to take more from our pockets to fund their pet schemes while basic service provision is eroded.  Councils are increasingly out of control and operating above the law.

And there is no mention of the way councils increasingly attempt to withhold information about their actions from the very people they are supposed to be serving and who pay to fund their existance.

Is it any wonder that in frustration and anger, with town halls stuffed with ignorant party hack councillors who have rings run around them by power hungry officers, we see this kind of response from people?  It is a consequence of banana republic ‘democracy’, lack of accountability and the absence of any check on officials acting as overlords, as our interests are treated as an annoying distraction from the business of social engineering and embedding the power of the bureaucrats and technocrats.

What was supposed to be the servant of the public, controlled by elected members chosen every four years – delivering essential services to the local community at a reasonable cost – has become a voracious parasite feeding off its host, doing us increasing harm and undermining our interests to serve theirs.  The issue is much wider than council tax payments. Moncrieff’s piece is a missed opportunity to connect the dots so more people can see what is being hidden from them in plain sight.

“If it were optional, hardly anyone would pay it”

That is the reported opinion of a Judge sitting in the Court of Appeal, who upheld the conviction of Veronica Connolly for refusing to pay the TV licence fee.

It is refreshing to have a Judge articulate so clearly why the British public is compelled to pay this tax.

What is clear is that the notion of choice is anathema to the establishment. They must have their channel to the people, funded by the people, but which remains resolutely unaccountable to the people. And of course the people shouting loudest in support of the BBC are those who suckle at its many teats at our enforced expense.

It is a contempt of the people that we are forced to fund the self interest, bias, activism and narrow left wing worldview of this pampered establishment poodle. And Lady Justice Hallett has now confirmed as part of a legal judgement that given the choice we would reject this raw outlet of big state propaganda.

All the more reason then to challenge the BBC’s monopolistic dominance in UK news and media. Justice Hallett’s words are a call to action.


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