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The Reverend Paul Nicolson, from Tottenham, vows to continue fight against benefit changes
A vicar who has refused to pay his council tax to protest against changes to benefits has promised to keep fighting in the New Year.
The Reverend Paul Nicolson, of Campbell Road, Tottenham, has challenged Haringey Magistrates Court over its decision to approve thousands of liability orders against people who cannot pay their council tax.
The liability orders give the council authority to take measures to collect the tax.
Mr Nicolson has asked the court to explain how it can justify charging £125 court costs against people who are already in debt – therefore making the problem worse.
He said: “The court has refused to answer my questions and has called my application futile and academic.
“I am incandescent about the merciless and careless way the magistrates and council enforce the council tax.”
The 80-year-old has now asked the High Court to order Haringey Magistrates to explain the reasoning behind the charges.
He added: “Something has to be done to prevent the enforcement of council tax by Haringey magistrates and council against impossibly low incomes.
“Household incomes which are already paying rent have been shredded because of the coalition's caps and cuts, with the addition of £125 court costs and hundreds of bailiffs' fees added to the arrears.”
A council spokesman said the authority has a statutory duty to collect the tax.
She said: “The Government’s decision to abolish council tax benefit and instruct all local authorities to introduce a new council tax reduction scheme left Haringey Council facing a funding gap of almost £4million.
“The introduction of Haringey’s council tax reduction scheme followed extensive consultation with residents.
The spokesman added: “It would simply not be sustainable for the council to absorb the cost of the Government’s cut, especially when already faced with reductions in government grant of around £144million up to 2016.”
Rev Nicolson will hold a meeting at North London Community House, in Moorefield Road, for people who have been affected by changes to benefits.
The meeting will start at 7pm on Monday, January 6, and he will be offering free advice about how to cope during difficult financial times.
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