Four per cent of Brent residents summoned to court over Council Tax arrears showed up

PUBLISHED: 16:56 05 November 2013 | UPDATED: 17:14 05 November 2013

Protestors challenge Cllr Muhammed Butt outside Willesden Magistrates' Court (pic credit: Myron Jobson)

Protestors challenge Cllr Muhammed Butt outside Willesden Magistrates' Court (pic credit: Myron Jobson)



Protestors outside Willesden Magistrates' Court (pic credit: Jan Nevill)Protestors outside Willesden Magistrates' Court (pic credit: Jan Nevill)

Just 22 out of 512 residents due in court today over Council Tax arrears showed up - equating to four per cent.

Brent Council have been slammed for issuing summons to 3,000 residents by critics who claim they are punishing the most vulnerable members of the community.

Protestors lobbied Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, over his stance as he showed up outside Willesden Magistrates’ Court for the first hearings.

Critics claim the action left financially-strapped residents saddled with further debts due to court costs of £90 added to each bill.

They also say the arrears have been caused by Brent Council changing the eligibility rules in April.

The council say they were left with a £6million black hole after the government abolished the Council Tax benefit scheme.

This has resulted in a majority of ‘working age’ residents having to make a contribution to their bills – including the unemployed.

However pensioners are exempt.

Sujata Aurora, from Brent Housing Action, said: “We are very angry that Brent Council has this action we feel there are other alternatives they could have pursued without taking court action.

“A lot of these debts are quiet small, some in the region of £100 and because the court action adds £90 costs it essentially doubles the debt.

“We are here to show our support and we feel the council should not be pursuing the people who cannot afford to pay and they should be trying to protect the borough’s most vulnerable residents from the effects from these government cuts.”

Cllr Butt told the Times that of those that showed up 12 reached a repayment agreement with the council waiving court costs.

A further eight cases were adjourned and two faced reduced court costs of £45.

He added: “Yes I am sorry that we are taking these people to court and these people are suffering not because of me but because of the government.”

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