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The local austere creditor

Spooner, Joseph (2021) The local austere creditor. In: Schwartz, Saul, (ed.) Oppressed by Debt: Government and the Justice System as a Creditor of the Poor. Routledge Studies in Crime and Society. Routledge, New York, NY, 42 - 68. ISBN 9780367417734

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Identification Number: 10.4324/9780367816216-3


In recent years, local authority or “council” tax has become an increasingly severe form of problem debt in England, with local authorities sending debt collectors to the doors of over one million households annually. This chapter considers the question of how such a situation could arise – how have local authorities increasingly transformed from bastions of the Welfare State into hardened creditors? The chapter offers a historical overview of the political economy of council tax, placing the contemporary council tax debt crisis in the context of fiscal consolidation policies and the politics of austerity. It explores the origins of cuts imposed on local authority budgets by UK central government austerity policies, before considering how these developments have created a new problem of debts owed to local government. The chapter next considers the intensive debt collection methods adopted by local authorities. Using analysis of multiple datasets on council tax debt collection practices, council tax finance, and local deprivation levels, it enquires as to the extent to which aggressive debt collection approaches have been driven by budgetary pressures imposed on local governments and considers how their effects have been distributed throughout the country. The chapter aims to understand these trends in the context of financialisation and the centrality of the debt relation under neoliberalism, through which many contemporary relationships and interactions have been reduced to debtor-creditor dynamics, including those between government and citizen.

Item Type: Book Section
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Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue > H20 - General
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I31 - General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2022 07:45
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 10:18

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