Frank Field MP
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The cruel choice between paying Council Tax, or feeding and clothing children


Feeding Birkenhead last week submitted to Wirral Council a proposal for the country’s first anti-hunger Council Tax system.

The build-up of Council Tax arrears seems over an extended period of time to soften up the ability of some of our town’s most vulnerable households to cope with a financial emergency.

Feeding Birkenhead has found that a frequent dilemma facing such households is whether to pay their Council Tax, or to feed and clothe their children.

Some, of course, can afford neither.

For those households who prioritise what limited resources they have for their children’s school uniforms, the path to Council Tax arrears and bailiffs is almost inevitably chosen for them – the average size of Council Tax arrears in Birkenhead is up by more than a third since 2012; from £596 per household to £796.

Our submission therefore made 13 proposals with the aim of granting all households in Birkenhead who have fallen behind on their Council Tax a reasonable opportunity to arrange a fair, long-term repayment plan.

Feeding Birkenhead’s objective on this front is to prevent households being left short of money to buy food, as well as to avoid the distress and the additional expense that comes with the involvement of bailiffs, while simultaneously ensuring that all Council Tax obligations are eventually met.

We very much hope that Wirral Council will act swiftly on our proposals, thereby taking a national lead in protecting poorer households who are at risk of losing all control over their arrears.

My next surgery is this Friday, November 4 at 5pm at Birkenhead Town Hall.

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