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Consultation unlawful

28 November 2014

THE SUPREME COURT has ruled that a consultation carried out by Haringey Council before a decision to reduce council-tax benefit, was "unlawful".

All five judges agreed that the council should have set out alternative methods of absorbing a shortfall in government funding. In doing so, they agreed with the Revd Paul Nicolson, a retired priest, who is also challenging the decision by the council to impose a £125 order for costs on everyone summoned to a magistrates' court for not paying council tax (News, 10 October).

He wrote several responses to the consultation of 2012, opposing the council's proposal to make households exempt from council tax pay 20 per cent of the tax. He argued that other councils had found other ways of meeting the shortfall created by central government cuts.

The Supreme Court agreed that his protest against the council's decision to go ahead with the proposal had been "well-directed". The judges did not, however, direct the council to carry out a fresh consultation.

The priest described the judgment as a "powerful win" that left the council "free to re-consult".

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