Perry’s Tories opt to send in the heavies to borough’s poorest

CROYDON IN CRISIS: After hiking Council Tax by 15%, the Tory Mayor and his finance chief are now using ‘an in-house army of bailiffs’ to go after residents on benefits who have fallen into arrears. By STEVEN DOWNES

£84,000 per year: Tory Mayor Jason Perry

While Jason Perry, the £84,000 per year Tory Mayor of Croydon, is handing out cushty Town Hall jobs to his mates and hiring special “support” staff for himself and his underworked cabinet, his latest wheeze for managing the cash-strapped council’s budget is to use “an in-house army of bailiffs” to go after residents with Council Tax arrears.

At a Town Hall meeting last night, the Conservative-run council agreed to seek legal orders to have the benefits of those in arrears docked to pay their Council Tax bills.

But the leader of the Labour opposition on the council said, “The council should be improving its efforts to get hardship funding to these residents, not targeting their benefits.”

The measures approved by Croydon Tories last night will, according to their own figures,  save the council around £400,000. The council, meanwhile, is spending almost £500,000 per year on allowances for Mayor Perry and his cabinet and salaries for their “support staff”.

The latest move comes months after Perry and his cabinet member for finance, Jason Cummings, hiked Council Tax by 15%, the biggest increase in the country.

£40,000 per year: cabinet member Jason Cummings

And it is just a year since Mayor Perry issued a Section 114 notice, an admission that he was unable to balance the authority’s budget in 2023-2024. It was the third time in two years that Croydon had issued a S114.

With the council debts of £1.6billion, Perry’s plan for 2024-2025 is to borrow even more – another £38million from Government – while slashing front-line services by a further £31million.

And Perry still wants to increase Council Tax again next April, this time by 5%.

A (very poorly written) report presented to last night’s council cabinet meeting said, “In April 2022, the council decided… to not actively seek recovery of Council Tax for residents who are in receipt of council tax support. Further exacerbating the potential for residents to unknowingly fall into debt that could become unmanageable.

“Given the current financial state of the council and the levels of budget deficits it is facing, this option is now not financially viable. The council must do everything within its power to collect as much Council Tax as possible to become a financially sustainable council in the future.”

The council says there are approximately 26,342 household that are currently excluded from recovery, and that there’s £3.6million in accumulated, uncollected tax. The report does put this into some kind of context, saying that this is just 1% of the total amount of Council Tax collectable in 2023-2024 (£311million).

The council report shows that from 50 households in arrears with their Council Tax in 2017, this grew to 876 in 2020, quadrupling in 2021 to 2,593 and then more than doubling to 5,669 in 2022.

Respect and dignity: Croydon Labour’s tweeted reaction to the cabinet decision

It’s reasonable to assume that with Perry’s 15% Council Tax hike this year, and a significant reduction in the amount of Council Tax relief being provided in Croydon, the numbers in arrears in 2023 may have ballooned even further, prompting the Tories to send in the heavies.

The recovery process will see poor people in debt hit with further additional costs.

A resident will first be sent a bill with set instalments. If the resident does not meet their instalments, then a reminder will be sent asking them to bring their account up to date before further action is taken.

“If the resident does not act,” the council says, “then a summons will be issued, this has a current cost of £117.50.

“Once the summons has been issued if the balance is not settled before the hearing date, a liability order will be granted at a current cost of £15.00 and a current court processing fee of £0.50 will be incurred.”

Once a liability order has been granted the council can then delve into a person’s private financial details, including employment status and employer details. They can snatch money directly from someone’s wages using an “Attachment of Earnings Order”, or divert money from their benefits, and they can send in the bailiffs to seize property for it to be flogged off to pay the debt.

The “benefit attachment” orders require the Department for Work and Pensions to pay a percentage of a claimant’s Universal Credit towards the debt. The council estimates this could help recover around £400,000 in the next 12 months by requesting up to 200 orders a month.

The Tory council’s move has caused serious concern among those working with the poor and vulnerable in Croydon.

“For an individual aged 25 and above who is receiving Universal Credit, the monthly deduction for a Council Tax debt would amount to £18.43,” Roni Marsh, the money and cost of living team manager at the South-West London Law Centre told Inside Croydon.

“While this figure may appear modest, it is a significant portion of Universal Credit recipients already rely on as a basic subsistence allowance. This additional deduction further impacts their financial resources allocated for essential necessities such as food and utilities.”

And Jane Nicholl, of the South Norwood Tourist Board, a community organisation that has worked closely with many council tenants, including those living in Regina Road, said, “This is social cleansing at its worst. Waging a war on the poor due to the poverty the council themselves initiated with their massive 15% Council Tax increase is obscene.

“The Tories are punishing the most vulnerable in the community. Mayor Perry is the unacceptable beetroot face of capitalism.

“The working class in Croydon have been shat on, first by Labour and now by this shower of rightwing buffoons who care only for the residents of Tudorbethan mansions with swimming pools. The Tory social cleansers are invading every walk of working-class life and need to be stopped.”

At last night’s cabinet meeting, Croydon Labour sought absolute undertakings from Mayor Perry that “his new in-house army of bailiffs will deal with residents in arrears with respect and dignity”.

The Tories say that they will seek to come to an arrangement with those in arrears before seeking any deductions from benefits. They say that those affected will be helped with a £2million support fund and debt support.

Councillor Stuart King, the leader of the Town Hall Labour group, said, “We are very concerned by these proposals to start sanctioning residents’ benefits, in particular given we are in a cost of living crisis that is just as hard hitting for our residents as covid was.

“The council should be improving its efforts to get hardship funding to these residents, not targeting their benefits.”

Read more: Town Hall staff braced for £31m more cuts and job losses
Read more: ‘There is no solution in sight’ warns council’s finance chief
Read more: Here’s the Mayor and 33 Croydon Tory councillors who THREE times voted in favour of hitting you with a 15% Council Tax hike

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  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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16 Responses to Perry’s Tories opt to send in the heavies to borough’s poorest

  1. Sarah Bird says:

    Disgraceful and totally unacceptable at every single level. What are the councilors actually doing to support the residents ?

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Sarah in response to your question regarding the 70 I am reminded of a song
      Slight amendments from me
      Them, huh, yeah
      What are they good for?
      Absolutely nothing, uhh
      those, huh, yeah
      What are they good for?
      Absolutely nothing
      Say it again, y’all
      Part time, huh (good God)
      What is it good for?
      Absolutely nothing, listen to me, oh
      that shit, I despise
      ‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
      acts means tears to thousands of mother’s eyes
      When child eyes lose their light
      And lose their lives
      I said, them, huh (good God, y’all)
      What is it good for?
      Absolutely nothing, just say it again
      their shit (whoa), huh (oh Lord)
      What is it good for?
      Absolutely nothing, listen to me
      It ain’t nothing but a heart-breaker
      they Friends only to The Undertaker
      Oh, there acts be a bane to all mankind
      The thought of them blows my mind
      They has caused unrest
      Within the younger generation
      Induction then destruction
      Who wants to die? Yo!

      Them, huh (good God y’all)
      What are they good for?
      Absolutely nothing

      Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield must have had crystal balls when they wrote this for Edwin Starr – catchy tune too.

      • sarah Bird says:

        Great song! I suspect that the Duty solicitor at court will have a whole new case load ,if Croydon attempts to litigate .For anyone who is not aware of Duty Solicitors roles in Court , there is a duty Solicitor who can represent someone at Court , often from local practices and with both criminal and civil experience. If you want to speak to the Duty Solicitor do try and get there early. Or instruct solicitors before

    • Don McNair says:

      Sweet FA

  2. David Wickens says:

    So Perry wants the Government to write off £540 million of Council debt, much of which is due to poor decision making and risk taking by elected Members, but is now chasing residents for relatively small arrears. Many of these people are the poorest in society struggling to survive on meagre funds.

    The Council has declared itself “bankrupt” three times and for the fourth should be declared as morally bankrupt.

  3. In management speak, these people are “low-hanging fruit”. Far easier to send the boys round and teach ’em a lesson than get any cash back from the likes of Negrini or Valo Smart City. And of course, the Tories will never go for the tax-dodging bastards that fund them.

    It’s not all bad news though. On Sunday The Observer reported that the Tory donors behind the JCB digger empire could be hit with a bill for more than £500m to settle a long-running investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.

    HMRC took a close look at Anthony Bamford, a Tory peer, and his brother Mark, the director of a subsidiary of the Conservative party, and their complex network of offshore tax havens and companies. Tax inspectors are said to be targeting efforts by the Bamford dynasty to aggressively minimise the payment of UK taxes over the last 20 years, during which time the JCB crew gave at least £10m to various Tories.

    Looks like they’ll have to bribe Starmer’s mob instead

    • Not sure what the ‘JCB Crew’ have to do with Croydon, but I think I have identified Arfur. Good luck to him and his alter ego – IC would be much diminished by his passing

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Yep go for the easy targets always.
      But seriously Arfur ”low hanging”? That sounds like a sack of balls when it shoud be more like a crock of s**t”! But hey both work in this case.

  4. Brian Finegan says:

    Can they get any more shameless, rinsing the poorest people’s benefits to pay for their own fuck ups. Was this put to a vote at the council meeting or was it an executive decision by the mayor?

    • This decision has been brought to you by Jason Perry.

      He’s in charge of a Facebook group that condones vandalism of ULEZ cameras. He’s justified that, saying “I am not surprised that people are angry at his (Sadiq Khan’s) £12.50 daily charge on some of the poorest and most vulnerable in my constituency”.

      However, Perry thinks it’s alright to target “the poorest and most vulnerable” in Croydon if it makes a meagre contribution to his clumsy efforts to try and balance the books and get a second term in office

      • Ian Kierans says:

        Yes a band and a wagon together and one without fibre will always jump onto it into it and wallow shamelessly in hte applause of the extreme few on the wrong of the right.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    There is a huge difference beterrn unable to pay and unwilling to pay. UC should be adjusted to take the amount of living costs for the poorest and unable to pay into account so that other esentials like food clothing and other neccessary expenses are catered for.

    Despite some kinds of press reports in some extremist papers, Benefits are not huge and those on benefits really struggle.

    When the few people on benefits have huge tv’s smart phones and mercedes or new cars, it is not from benefits. They either had those prior to being relaint on the state, have excessive borrowing, or indulged in illegality and/or drug selling.

    Most are hit with the triple D by the insane acts of people in authority – Deprived, disregarded and demoralised.

  6. Derek Nicholls says:

    Taking people to court for arrears of Council Tax is a course of action open to all councils in the country — and they do use that threat. It is not unique to Croydon.

    • None of those councils worsened the the crisis by ratcheting up Council Tax by 15%.

      This is industrial scale, callous gas-lighting by Perry and Cummings, and Kerswell, too.

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