Protestors challenge town hall boss outside court after Brent residents summoned over Council Tax arrears
PUBLISHED: 10:13 05 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:20 05 November 2013
Angry protestors have challenged a town hall boss this morning after thousands of residents were summoned to appear in court today over Council Tax arrears.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, was accosted as he turned up for the hearings at Willesden Magistrates’ Court.
Around 3,000 residents were ordered to appear in court over the unpaid bills which have been blamed on changes to Council Tax benefits.
Since April this year, all residents of working age must make a contribution to their bills after the government abolished the benefit scheme and replaced it by putting the control in the hands of local authorities.
However, Brent Council claim the changes resulted with a £6m black hole which meant they had to rewrite the eligibility rules.
While pensioners are exempt, residents on low wages who would previously qualify for Council Tax Benefit were no longer entitled.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, told the Times the summons had been issued to residents who refused to correspond with them.
He said: “I know it seems heavy handed but it is a last ditch attempt for people who don’t understand the ramifications of what they are doing.
“If they work with us we can help them through a number of measures including debt advice. We are doing all we can to do make them realise we are here to help.”
However, Pilgrim Tucker from Unite Community, who organised the protest along with Brent Housing Action, Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group and the West London Peoples’ Assembly, said the action has left some residents scared.
She added: “The amount of money the council is spending on ‘engaging’ with residents will ending up costing as much as the original cut in the central government grant.”
The protest started at 9am this morning,
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