On the 8th of February 2012 Peter Williams, a gifted engineer and Guinness World Record holder, committed suicide after falling into arrears on his council tax.
Having paid these off months later, the council then sent him a £1,350 bill for court costs. Unable to pay in full he offered to pay in installments, an offer which was rejected. Despite a letter from his GP stating he was severely depressed and suicidal, still the council hounded him and set a date to evict him from his home which he had bought outright. His bill inexplicably escalated to £70,000 and with his eviction imminent, Peter wrote: “I have had enough and cannot stand any more of the mental turmoil”. Then he stepped in front of a train.
Had Peter not killed himself the council would have been obliged to rehouse him at the taxpayers’ expense.
David Clapson, a former soldier and diabetic, died in July 2014 after his benefit was cut. Clapson had no food in his stomach, £3.44 in the bank and no money on his electricity card, leaving him unable to operate his fridge where he kept insulin.
Jacqueline Harris committed suicide in November 2013 after her benefits were cut. She was disabled. Her sister Chrisitine, a nurse said, said: “If you’ve got a great education, if you have great health, you’re OK. But if you haven’t, you have to fight against the odds.
An inquest found that Harris, who was partially sighted, committed suicide after months of constant pain and following a “fit for work” ruling that replaced her incapacity benefit with jobseeker’s allowance.
These are just a few of the people who have been driven to death as a result of the Con Dem’s fatally flawed austerity measures. In previous blogs I’ve named others who have died, as reported in the media, as a result of fuel poverty and hunger and those driven over the edge by the beleaguered bedroom tax.
The Con Dem attack on the most vulnerable in society has been relentless, brutal and as unyielding as it is ill conceived. If you default on your council tax or you’re late with your income tax, they’re down on you like a ton of bricks.
Meanwhile, HSBC has been exposed as helping the rich to dodge taxes. That’s millions of pounds that should have gone to the NHS and education. Taxes the rest of us are charged at source and have to pay.
Despite HMRC knowing for several years that HSBC has helped over 1,000 of its UK customers dodge tax, only one prosecution has been pursued on behalf of UK taxpayers. It seems, if you rob a bank and de fraud the HMRC dressed in a designer suit and armed with a rolex and a top of the range “tax planner”, it’s not illegal. The more money you have the more you can steal from those that have nothing without ever facing criminal charges, because the laws of morality and criminality that apply to the rest of us have an opt out clause if you can afford to buy it.
The Con Dem government has managed to fast track legislation that squeezes the life blood (literally) out of the most vulnerable in society, yet known loopholes that allow the rich to dodge paying their fair share of taxes, remain conspicuously open. It will remain ever thus unless we make our voices heard.
International campaign group Avaaz has an online petition calling for HSBC prosecutions. It already has half a million signatures. In the UK, campaign group, 38 Degrees has the same online petition directed at George Osborne with over 100,000 signatures and counting.