By Martin Beckford, Policy Editor For The Daily Mail
12:26 23 Mar 2023, updated 17:03 23 Mar 2023
- Chancellor changed rules last year to allow councils to put through higher rises
Struggling families face a deepening cost of living crisis as the average council tax bill tops £2,000 for the first time.
The latest hike represents another blow to hard-pressed homeowners after Government statistics revealed that the average council tax bill for a Band D property will reach a record £2,065 in 2023-24.
Meanwhile, more than 1million homeowners on variable rate mortgages will see their payments go up by hundreds of pounds a year after the Bank of England hiked interest rates to 4.25 per cent.
The move was backed by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who said that rising prices were ‘strangling growth’.
And the Bank governor raised the prospect of more pain to come from further rate rises.
Want to know how much your council tax could increase by? Type the name of your local authority into the box below to reveal the planned rise:
The total is up £99 on the figure for the current financial year, a 5.1 per cent rise, yet residents can expect worsening services as chiefs say they must make massive cuts to balance the books.
At the same time, millions of households are receiving unwelcome letters from energy firms warning that their fuel bills will soon rise by £67 a month as the Government’s rebate scheme comes to an end.
The economic shocks come just a day after inflation rose again to 10.4 per cent in the year to February – driven by surging food prices caused by shortages of salad and vegetables. Rishi Sunak has previously vowed to halve the headline rate by the end of the year.
The Governor of the Bank of England attempted to reassure the public over both rampant price rises and fears of a banking crisis.
And offering a glimmer of hope, he claimed that inflation will have fallen sharply by the summer.
The economic shocks come just a day after figures showing an unexpected rise in inflation to 10.4 per cent – a blow to Rishi Sunak’s vow to halve inflation by the end of the year.
Food prices are going up by an eye-wateringly high 18.2 per cent – a 45 year high – amid salad and vegetable shortages while the price of going out for a pint has also spiked.
Mr Bailey said he expected galloping inflation to come down a lot by the time families are heading for their holidays this summer but hinted that rates could continue to climb until it is brought under control.
‘We know people are worried about the cost of living and they rightly think that inflation is too high’, Mr Bailey said.
‘They may also be worried about what they have been hearing about banks in recent days.
‘That’s why we have taken action on both.
‘Low and stable inflation is the foundation of a healthy economy. Raising rates is the best tool to bring inflation down.
‘We believe inflation will begin to fall quite rapidly before the summer.’
Chancellor Mr Hunt said: ‘With rising prices strangling growth and eroding family budgets, the sooner we grip inflation the better for everyone.
‘That’s why we support the Bank of England’s actions today and why we will continue to play our part in this fight by being responsible with the public finances, alongside providing cost of living support worth an average of £3,300 per household over this year and next.’
But Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: ‘Today’s interest rate announcement will be a source of huge concern for families across the country who will be thinking about the impact this will have on their finances.
‘The Government think the cost of living crisis is over but the reality is that too many families are dealing with a Tory mortgage penalty and battling with soaring food prices.’
Money saving expert Martin Lewis has previously urged Britons worried about council tax rises to check if they are in the right band. If not, you could save thousands of pounds.
Lewis explained: ‘Once upon a time, way back in 1991, in time for the launch of its new council tax system, the Government needed every property in the land to be put in a valuation band.
‘But time was short, and the job large, so the people in charge asked estate agents and others to help.
‘Yet even with all the estate agents’ help, they didn’t have time to get the detailed information together, so they set about doing it quickly by pairing up and driving down countless streets, allocating each property a band with just a glance.
‘They became known as ‘second-gear valuations’ as they mostly never even stopped their cars, never mind got out of them.’
Therefore, many households have been on the wrong council tax band since 1991 and many find that they should be on a different band today.
You can challenge your band if you think it is wrong and recoup the money you might have overpaid.
However, it is worth noting that you might be re-banded and have to pay more council tax, so be careful before you do make the challenge.
Lewis explained that people in England and Wales should submit their challenges to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which you can access on the Government’s website.
Alternatively, you can call the VOA on 03000 501 501 for England or 03000 505 505 for Wales or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need to give the addresses of up to five similar properties in a lower council tax band in your immediate area, plus give detailed information on the type of property you live in.
The challenging process is different if you live in Scotland and Lewis says that you should visit the Scottish government’s website for more information.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNT?
Discounts and reductions can be awarded to people including (but not limited to):
- People who live alone (or only with under-18s)
- People living with a severe mental impairment (SMI)
- Those on a low income / benefits / universal credit
- Those on pension credit
To apply for discounts you must go through the Government website.
You will need your national insurance number, bank statements, a recent payslip or letter from the Jobcentre, and a passport or driving licence when filling out the details.
If you are not sure which local authority you live in, you can check the Government’s council locator to find out.
If you live on your own, you can get 25 per cent off your council tax bill.
This also applies if there is one adult and one student living together in a property, or if there is one adult and one person classed as severely mentally impaired in the home.
If you live with someone who doesn’t have to pay council tax, such as a carer or someone who is severely mentally impaired, you could get a larger reduction too, of up to 50 per cent.
And, if you live in an all-student household, you could get a 100 per cent discount.
A full list of circumstances that exempt you from paying council tax can be found on Citizens Advice.
Pensioners may also find themselves eligible for a council tax reduction.
If you are on a low income or receiving benefits, you could be eligible for a reduction on your council tax.
Whether you are eligible will vary depending on where you live.
- Business owner slams the Government as ‘out of touch’ for the expansion zones
- Another says it will ‘disproportionately affect’ those who must drive miles to get to their nearest shop
- HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think of the ULEZ expansion? Email me at: email@example.com
The Ultra Low Emission Zone is set to expand to all London boroughs on August 29 2023, but many drivers have been left disgruntled at the new plans, and have slammed the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s decision.
The public have been left divided on the ULEZ expansion, which will see motorists slapped with a £12.50 charge to drive in the newly expanded zones – if their car, motorcycle, van or other specialist vehicle doesn’t meet the emissions standards.
Brits who live in the newly proposed zones – such as Kingston-Upon-Thames, Hayes, Croydon, Twickenham and Enfield – and bordering counties, including the home counties, say the move is putting their businesses at risk and tearing families apart.
Other people have been left fuming at the proposed plan as they face £650 annual costs to visit sick their relatives or grandchildren, as tradesmen and business owners say they are looking at a whopping £3,000 bill to use their vehicles in the designated zones despite still financially recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic.
And while the Mayor has launched a new £110m scrappage scheme providing financial assistance – up to £2,000 for cars and £1,000 for motorcycles – to help eligible Londoners scrap their highest polluting vehicles to prepare for the expansion, many elderly people say that they simply cannot afford or ‘don’t want to spend £20,000 on a new car’ – branding the move a ‘nuisance’.
Here, Brits share why they oppose of the newly proposed expansion zones:
Forking out £650 a year to visit seriously ill family
Sue Chapman, 63, from Tenterden, Kent, faces the £12.50 ULEZ charge every time she visits a loved one in London who is suffering from severe mental health problems.
Doing the trip by public transport, Sue says, is not doable for her as it would take nearly three hours – involving her taking two buses and two trains – incurring a total cost of more than £30.
Therefore, speaking to MyLondon, she said that she prefers the door-to-door drive in her 2007 Mini Clubman.
While her diesel costs and the parking come to around £30 too, she says she is the only one who can offer her loved one vital emotional support on a shoe-string budget.
The 63-year-old says that her family member is ‘significantly mentally ill’ and ‘on a lot of medicines’ and if she took the trip down less often she fears they would not be able to cope well.
Sue explained: ‘If I visited them less often I can categorically say they would not be as well as they are. They are sadly someone who earlier in their illness made three tough suicide attempts.
Unfortunately, despite Sue driving more than 100 miles – sometimes every week – drivers in the Home Counties are not eligible for up to £2,000 towards a new car.
However, she ‘does not have a choice’ but to cough up the cash for the ULEZ fee if she’s to take care of her family member, adding: ‘this charge is going to affect are basically people like us.’
Sadiq Khan has ‘ruined my retirement plans’ as I’ve cashed my pension early to buy a compliant car
Speaking to MailOnline, a Chessington resident, 55, who is a full-time carer has revealed she is ‘absolutely gutted’ that she was forced to cash in early on her pension to buy a complainant car for the new ULEZ expansion.
She has blamed Sadiq Khan for ruining ‘my retirement plans’ because of this.
Left horrified at being forced to cash out, the 55-year-old has shockingly claimed that Mr Khan’s new proposal looks like it is ‘okay to pollute the air as long as we pay him a fee to do so’.
Revealing how she will be affected by the ULEZ expansion, the resident who falls within the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames said: ‘I’m a full time carer for my 85 year old disabled mother. I also work restricted part time due to the carers allowance I receive.
‘I can claim scrappage, but it’s only up to £2000 and isn’t fit for purpose. I’ve just cashed in my pension 10 years early so I can buy a compliant car and I’m absolutely gutted to have to have done this.’
She continued to say: ‘I work in Banstead and can get to work by car in 20 minutes. If I were to use public transport it’d take me two hours, on two buses, two trains and involve a mile walk.
‘I can’t afford that and I refuse to spend four hours a day commuting. My customers (home counties) tell me it will affect them too but they have had no say in it and weren’t able to vote for Khan either.
‘Khan has ignored the consultation and it turns out purchased the cameras before he even started the consultation. He claims to have been on free school meals as a child himself, so his own parents struggled, but he seems to think it’s fine to target the working classes with this tax as he has bankrupted TfL and needs the poorest to clear his deficit.
‘It seems it’s okay to pollute the air as long as we pay him a fee to do so.’
She added that ‘most astonishingly’ the Mayor of London has done nothing to help Brits who live in villages or out of London get into the city easily.
The 55-year-old said: ‘Finally, Greater London comprises small towns and villages; some areas have one bus an hour, but he continues to reduce public transport instead of improving it. There are 32 Greater London boroughs. Khan claims that four out of five vehicles are already compliant.
‘This is rubbish.’
Garage owner fears expansion zone will reduce value of his 27-year-old business
A garage owner has revealed that he fears the expansion zone will reduce the value of his business, which he has kept going for 27 years.
Mechanic Colin Ferns, 59, the owner of a Mercedes garage in South West London now fears that the ULEZ expansion zone will knock £300,000 off his business.
The widening of the zone to include all 32 London boroughs in August this year could ‘ruin’ what he has built from the ground up.
Estimating that a quarter of his customers do not have vehicles that fit with the new regulations, he told MyLondon: ‘A lot of customers have sold their cars so we aren’t seeing them anymore. A huge portion of my customers who have had to part with their cars. It’s a catastrophe, it’s having a detrimental impact on my business.’
As well as Mr Ferns estimating that it will cost around £60 per fix to pay for the road tests, he fears that ULEZ will make his business worth ‘significantly less’ after recently having it valued for £600,000 through an audit.
He added: ‘I suspect the value of the business is reduced purely to the value of the premises (£300,000). The whole thing is a complete debacle. I’m an employer and I had no idea the consultation was going on until it was too late.’
‘The only property I own is a car – Sadiq Khan knows he’s making the poor poorer’
While Croydon Council has not signed the Section 8 agreement for works to expand the ULEZ to the borough, residents have been left fuming that they will have to soon pay to travel into other areas that are part of the expansion.
The agreement would allow local highway authorities to enter into agreements with other authorities and companies in relation to the construction, reconstruction, alteration, improvement or maintenance of a highway.
Josephine McCarthy, from Croydon, has told the MailOnline that she lives in Croydon but works in Sutton – which is part of the planned expansion zone – and will now have to cough up ‘£12.50 a day for the pleasure’ of going into work and visiting her family.
She adds that she suffers from claustrophobia, and so travelling by public transport is not feasible for her.
She said: ‘I work as a SEN TA [special educational needs teaching assistant] in Sutton and I live in Croydon. I have a car that has never broken down and passes it’s MOT every year.
‘I do not like buses or trains and would have to get two and the pleasure of being squashed. I suffer claustrophobia.
‘The so called mayor of everywhere apparently says I’m not saying you can’t drive but pay my coffers £12.50 a day for the pleasure.’
The Croydon resident added that every month ‘I have to ask friends or relations to top up my bank account otherwise I’m over drawn’.
She continued to say: ‘My wages have stayed stagnant. Now Croydon want us to pay 15% rise on our council tax! The only property I own is my car. I would be nowhere with out it.’
And on speaking about how the ULEZ expansion zone will affect her visiting relatives, who are sick, she said: ‘My sister had a stroke and lives in Caterham. If I didn’t have my car I wouldn’t be able to see her.
‘It takes 20mins in car to get to her or over an hour on two buses. My car is my freedom and he [Sadiq Khan] wants to take that from me.
‘He’s a money grabbing disgrace. He knows he’s making the poor poorer. Because it’s the poor who drive older cars.’
The tube is too ‘b****y inconvenient’
Sue Goodman, 76, who lives in Kew Village, says that she will not be ditching her powerful Mercedes vehicle and will have to deal with the costs incurred for using her vehicle in the new ULEZ zone.
She explained to MyLondon that she is reluctant to part with her 23-year-old Mercedes SL500 because she is attached to it.
She explained that she tried using public transport, but it ended up being a major inconvenience for her as it was more of a hassle than driving to her destination.
Sue tried using public transport to get to her tennis matches in Ealing, but complained the Tube is ‘bl**** inconvenient’.
The 76-year-old added: ‘I have to change three to four times and a long walk, I decided to give in and pay ULEZ which costs £25 a week but it’s okay.’
Sue even got a quote to electrify the car, but revealed it would cost a staggering £60,000 on a two year waiting list.
And last week we reported that Brits discouraged to buy Electric Vehicles due to the lack of availability of them on the market or second hand sites, saying they are not ‘particularly affordable’ at this current time.
‘I am being penalized for owning an older car because that’s all I can afford’
Darren Rodwell, the leader of Barking and Dagenham council has slammed the ULEZ expansion scheme, saying that with the living pressures Brits are facing at the moment, there needs to be a more generous scrappage scheme than the £110m currently proposed.
The leader said he ‘made the case to TfL that we need a much more comprehensive and generous scrappage and support scheme for outer London, and a greater lead-in time for people to take advantage of any schemes, given the cost of living pressures facing people at the moment’.
And his constituents feel the same about the scheme.
Speaking to MailOnline, Barking resident Lee Wood, 45, says that he ‘vehemently’ opposes the emission zone expansion, saying that he feels it will not make a difference to his borough.
Mr Wood said: ‘I vehemently oppose this ULEZ expansion for the following reasons, the main argument for ULEZ is to improve air quality as a matter of urgency, now I don’t believe this will make hardly any difference to our outer London boroughs and even TfL own report states there will be a negligible benefit.
‘Our air quality is already good with lots of green space, I have a perfectly good older car that doesn’t produce any black smoke it passes its MOT emissions test every year and unlike cars years ago they are already fitted with filters to keep the exhaust fumes clean.’
He continued to say that he feels like he is being punished by the Government for owning an older car, and he cannot afford a newer one.
The 45-year-old said: ‘But I am being penalized for owning an older car because that’s all I can afford. This proposed scheme is very expensive to me £4000 a year will just make it impossible for me to drive and so will make my life miserable as I suffer with severe social anxiety and can’t use public transport.
‘There is no other compliant cars for sale I could possibly buy with very little money. So in short to scrap my perfectly good car and not being able to replace it will have a devastating impact on my life, why does it have to be so much money why couldn’t it have been £30-40 a month?
‘That would still be enough for people to start looking gradually for a cleaner newer vehicle not that I don’t think older cars are not particularly clean.’
The ULEZ expansion is a ‘shot in the arm for businesses like mine’
Damien Cook, 51, from Kent, who is the owner of Cooke and Co Estate Agents and Lettings Agents, has claimed that his business will be in a ‘strained position’ because of the ULEZ expansion – as he will be needing to help his employees purchase cars that meet the criteria.
Speaking to MailOnline, the owner of the estate agents company says he ‘feels for people’ who are going to be affected by the ULEZ expansion.
He says that ‘people on lower incomes are going to get penalized, and with everything gong on with the economy and cost of living crisis it is unfair.’
Mr Cook continued to say that ‘until trains and transport get sorted out and have more investments placed into them, people are going to be really affected by the ULEZ expansion.
‘It seems ludicrous to me to expand the scheme but have no investment in making the roads better.’
While Mr Cook drives and Electric Tesla, he says that he will be affected by the expansion as his daughter lives in Stratford.
And in talking about how this will affect his business, he says that he will just have to ‘swallow the costs’ by helping out his estate agents.
He has already helped them by increasing their wages by 10 per cent to help them with the cost of living crisis.
But due to the nature of his staff’s jobs, they will have to incur the £12.50 charge a day and this is a ‘shot in the arm for me as we don’t have company cars.’
Instead, the landlord or property seller will have a fee put on their bill to cover the costs every time a member of staff takes someone on a viewing that is within the ULEZ zone.
The 51-year-old added that the majority of the people in his business have cars that do not meet the criteria, and also added that they ‘cannot afford a new car.’
His company will now be looking at helping out the employees change their cars over, but added that he is in a ‘strained position to help them’.
Londoners protest as ULEZ camera is ‘torn down’
Footage of a ULEZ camera lying on the ground has gone viral this week.
The camera was used to monitor vehicles entering a ULEZ zone in central London, but following news about the increased daily charge, Londoners have taken a stand.
A TikTok video posted by @leesreactivemaintenance took the internet by storm this week as Londoners made their thoughts about the expansion zones clear.
In the video, a ULEZ camera is seen lying on the ground next to traffic lights after being removed from the pole.
The voiceover said: ‘That’s what I like to see in the morning, a ULEZ camera.’
While it is not clear exactly where in the capital the incident occurred, many social media users praised the person who knocked the camera down.
One person wrote: ‘We need to see more of this, public fighting back.’
While another said: ‘Great stuff, the ulez can do one!’
And a third person wrote: ‘Down with ULEZ, LTN and 15 Minute Lockdown cameras.’
A fourth put: ‘Actions speak louder than words people!’
Another person urged for the same to be done in their home town too, writing: ‘Beautiful. Now do all the new ULEZ cameras in Sheffield please.’
Residents not going to funerals over ULEZ charges
Speaking to MailOnline, a spokesperson at Mortlake Crematorium says that they have noticed some locals have been visiting the crematorium less and less because of the ULEZ charge.
While the ULEZ zone was introduced into the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames in October 2021, elderly Londoners have been missing out on funerals because of this – and it is still the case today – a councillor has revealed.
Because of this, mourners driving to Mortlake Crematorium have to pay the £12.50 fee if their car is not compliant with emission rules.
This has meant that many regular elderly Londoners – who used to visit the crematorium weekly – have stopped attending because their cars do not fit within the regulations.
A spokesperson added that many elderly locals ‘don’t want to spend £20,000 on a new car and so there has been a decrease in regulars that visit the crematorium.
‘Whilst I am unable to give the specifics because we get hundreds of visitors a year, there is one gentleman in particular I have noticed that has stopped coming.’
Meanwhile, Penelope Frost, a Liberal Democrat councillor for the borough, has claimed hat number of ‘older residents’ have missed funerals because of the charge.
At a council meeting in January, Cllr Frost said: ‘I have certainly heard from some of our older residents who have actually just not attended funerals of friends and loved ones at Mortlake Crematorium because their cars will no longer get them to that site.
‘I think that because we have to take into account those people who do have older cars and they’re not yet in a position to change the cars, and certainly in Ham and Petersham you look very hard to find electric charging points.
‘Given that situation, I think we do have to look for some pause before this goes ahead because of the amount of damage it’s going to cause to our older and more isolated residents.’
‘The ULEZ expansion to the Surrey border means my grandkids won’t be able to visit me’
People who live on the proposed ULEZ expansion border say the move is putting businesses at risk and tearing families apart.
The Ultra Low Emissions Zone will be extend to Surrey’s border at the London Borough of Kingston and Sutton, but residents say that this poses a threat to their ability to see family members who live nearby or in other affected areas.
Debra Winning, a 62-year-old resident of Sandy Lane, in Sutton says that her grandchildren will not be able to visit her.
She says that the ULEZ zone coupled with the cost of living crisis is ‘another thing that’s going to drain people financially’, report SurreyLive.
The 62-year-old said: ‘I think it’s really bad actually.
‘All my grandchildren driving can’t afford the latest cars, they’re at uni. They won’t be able to come and visit me. One is a trainee nurse and one is a trainee teacher so they’re struggling financially already.’
She added that with rise of inflation and the cost of living crisis going up, the ULEZ fee will financially cripple a lot of families.
Ms Winning continued that she understands why it has been implemented in London due to busier roads, but ‘around this area I don’t think it’s fair at all.’
The grandmother went on to question: ‘I just think it’s so hard for people struggling. They’re not really thinking about how people are going to manage these situations. If they can’t afford a new car what are they supposed to do?’.
Builder to lose £3,000 over ULEZ which ‘tradesmen can’t afford’
A builder has stated that tradesmen will be one of the most affected people by the ULEZ expansion in August, as many workers will be forced to fork out thousands of pounds per year to cover their vans or vehicles – which they may not be able to afford.
The tradesman has claimed that he will face extra costs of more than £3,000 a year when the expanded charge comes into effect.
Taking to Reddit, the user detailed his concerns in a lengthy post.
He argued that the charge introduced for driving vehicles that do not meet emission standards could cost him as much as £3,500 more per year.
He said: ‘I’m a self employed builder and have lots of subcontractors and I can tell you that it’s going to be very difficult for some of them to cope with the Ulez.
‘The cost of second hand vans has skyrocketed since Covid and for a second hand 2017 van that has done 60,000 miles you’re looking at around £20,000 + VAT. Many of the one-man band businesses are not VAT registered so they will have to pay it.
‘I promise you that many tradesmen cannot afford it.’
He added that his outgoing expenses are now ‘double’ what they were just a few years ago – and customers are also feeling the pinch due to the rise of inflation and the cost of living crisis.
Figures from AutoTrader also show there are just 5,181 compliant vehicles for sale across London and the South East of England on its marketplace – with only 23,808 ULEZ-compliant vehicles for the entire UK.
This may cause issues in the long run as not all of these vehicles will be affordable for those who want to avoid the £12.50 daily charges.
‘Devastated ‘ business owner fears she may have to shut shop
Sutton in South London falls under one of the newly included expansion zones, as one business owner has been left fearing she may have to pull down the shutters for one last time when the ULEZ expansion comes into place in August.
Kat Heath, 40, who owns a handyman service, says she is worried that she will be forced to close as 80 per cent of her clients come from London boroughs.
The 40-year-old owner says her business is still recovering from the pandemic, and has slammed the government as ‘out of touch’ for looking to expand the zones.
Speaking to SurreyLive, Ms Heath said: ‘We’ll have to increase our hourly rate to afford to make these changes. We’ve looked into buying a new van which is £30,000 which we haven’t got. We’re still recovering from Covid and the effects that had on our business.
‘It’s devastating for us and other businesses. We’ll have to put our hourly rate up by another £3. If someone is having us for a couple of days that’s going to add up. A lot of the places we get materials from are based in Sutton and surrounding areas. We’ll have to pay £12.50 just to get materials or look at a job.’
The fact of the matter is, she said, they will now be looking to increase their prices to cover the tax and the ‘clients will face the brunt of that’.
Ms Heath added that with the cost of living crisis at the forefront of a lot of families and business owners minds, this ‘doesn’t sit’ well with her, adding that she feels the government is ‘out of touch.’
Pensioner who is ineligible for the scrappage scheme
A pensioner has claimed that he is ‘ineligible for the scrappage scheme’ as he drives a 20-year-old car.
Eligible applicants for the scheme must live within one of the 32 London boroughs or the City of London and receive certain benefits to be eligible for the ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage programme.
Therefore, many elderly people have been discouraged by both the scheme and the newly expanded zones.
Writing on Reddit, the pensioner who has remained anonymous, explained: ‘I’m against the ULEZ expansion. I live in an outer London borough. I’m a pensioner, not rich but not on any benefits so ineligible for the scrappage scheme.
‘I drive a 20 year old diesel with two catalytic converters, a DPF and an EGR. Car very well looked after and has never failed a MOT and never spews dark exhaust smoke.’
He continued to say that due to mobility issues, he cannot use public transport and so replacing his car with a newer one will be a ‘nuisance’ to him.
Continuing, he said: ‘Back issues means I cannot use public transport (have tried but my back gets messed up).
‘I need a car to fetch groceries and visit friends and family. Replacing my car will be a nuisance and will cost me, I reckon my car is good for at least another ten years. Just my story, I’m sure there are many others.’
Bike shop owner – who owns nine cars – says ULEZ expansion will cause ‘chaos’
A bike shop owner – who owns nine cars – has claimed that ULEZ expansion will cause ‘chaos’ for locals.
Chris Penfold, 50, who has owned Deen’s Garage bike shop in Beckenham since 1999 has revealed that the ULEZ expansion could cost up to £80,000 to replace just three of his families cars to ensure they are compliant with the new extended scheme.
The shop owner says that he and his family drive up to three cars a day as part of his business and for hobbies such as horse riding and racing, report News Shopper.
The Bromley local says that the expansion will disproportionately affect residents in some parts of the capital who have to ‘drive for miles’ to get to their nearest shop.
Mr Penfold said: ‘It’s pretty endless, the chaos it’s going to cause and the discomfort for no great effect on the air because the air is alright anyway. I respect the fact that they want lower emissions, but why should you be able to pay a tax to still poison people?
‘Why are you paying money for that to happen? You should either have it and not pay or ban it, not be able to pay to use it.
‘It’s basically saying that people are getting really ill and dying and they’ve got a poor quality of life, but if you give us £12.50 it’s actually acceptable.’
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SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus are pushing legislation to put pawnbrokers under the same interest rate caps as payday lenders and other small-dollar, short-term lenders, but the pawn shop industry says the proposed caps would effectively put them out of business.
On the first day of a brief “lame duck” session Wednesday, state Sen. Jacqueline Collins and Rep. Sonya Harper, both Chicago Democrats, joined other advocates in accusing the pawn industry of exploiting a “loophole” in a 2021 law known as the Predatory Lending Prevention Act that was aimed at reining in the high-interest, short-term loan industry.
“The PLPA put a stop to many forms of predatory lending in Illinois, but pawnshops convinced a judge to give them a loophole to allow them to continue issuing loans with abusive and excessive three-figure interest rates,” Collins said during a Statehouse news conference.
The PLPA passed during the General Assembly’s last lame duck session in 2021, as part of the Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda aimed addressing what its members described as “systemic racism.” The law caps consumer lenders to charging no more than 36 percent interest per year.
But the law did not specifically mention pawnbrokers, who are allowed to charge interest rates and fees that can amount to effective rates as high as 240 percent per year or more when factoring in associated fees, according to the Woodstock Institute, a consumer advocacy group.
Two bills that have been introduced in the lame duck session – Senate Bill 4241 and House Bill 5840 – would close that gap by including pawn brokers within the PLPA.
“Predatory loans have drained billions from Black, brown and lower-income communities in our state,” Harper said. “The PLPA has stopped this cycle of disinvestment and enabled our community to retain wealth and to invest in jobs instead of padding the pockets of predatory lenders.”
Speaking separately to reporters, representatives of the pawn industry argued that they need to be treated differently from other kinds of lenders because they operate under a different business model.
“We’re already under a 36 percent rate cap. That’s how much interest we can charge, is 36 percent maximum,” said Kelly Swisher, president of the Illinois Pawnbrokers Association. “What we’re allowed by the Pawnbroker Regulation Act is to charge additional fees to help cover the mandated requirements for the pawn industry.”
When a person comes in to pawn something – a watch, a musical instrument or a stereo, for example – Kelly said the pawn shop is required to store those items on the premises, secure them and insure them for twice the amount of the pawn loan.
“And we have police reporting requirements, which, believe it or not, cost money,” he added. “A pawn shop must report to the local police and municipality by noon the following day of all the transactions that we do.”
Pawn shops also must conduct certain customer checks with the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, he said.
Putting pawnbrokers under a strict 36 percent cap would effectively limit them to charging just $3 per month on a $100 pawn, which Swisher said would not be enough to cover those additional mandatory costs.
As of Wednesday, it was unclear whether there would be enough time to consider the bills during the brief lame duck session, which cannot go beyond Jan. 11, when the newly-elected 103rd General Assembly is sworn into office. But Collins said she believes they will have the support of the Democratic legislative leadership.
“We expect for the speaker and for the president of the Senate to honor the position of the Illinois Black Caucus,” she said.
DANVILLE — It’s been three years since 41-year-old Terry L. Gaines was gunned down while working, delivering a pizza on the city’s east side.
Just that week in April 2019, there were three fatal shootings in Danville. There had already been five homicide victims in the city that year that went on to see about a dozen from shootings.
Verna Smith, Gaines’ mom, said she’s still holding out hope for an arrest in her son’s murder.
“I’m hoping that one of these days they’ll find the two people that did it,” Smith said. “I am still hopeful that someone out there will tell the story.”
Smith said losing a son to gun violence has been hard.
She said she’s been depressed, especially around Gaines’ birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. She misses him dearly.
“I miss talking to him, and all that,” she said.
In addition to supporting his fiancée and her children at the time, Gaines also was financially helping his mother with monthly bills.
“Now I’m struggling trying to keep the bills paid,” she said, adding that everything has increased. “My rent went up. My power bill went up. It’s just a mess.”
Smith said she’s been struggling and going to therapy because of her mental issues she has going on.
Smith works for Love INC of Vermilion County. Gaines is one of her four sons.
To this day, Smith said everybody tells her what a wonderful guy Gaines was, and that he worked hard to support his family.
“And I say, ‘Yeah he did,’” Smith said. “He was a great guy.”
She said people have asked why someone would target him.
“And I think that they were trying to get some money. My understanding from the autopsy, it was a struggle,” Smith said.
“It was shocking when I found out about it,” she added.
Smith said she went to the site where he died.
“I bawled the whole day,” she said.
“I just pray and hope that one day someone will come forward, have their conscience get to them and tell the story,” she added. “I’m just praying and hoping. Because it’s been three years and it’s really getting to me.”
According to the police reports at the time, at about 10:22 p.m. April 30, 2019 police responded to a report of an armed robbery in progress with shots fired in the area of Alexander and Madison streets.
Officers observed that the victim, later identified as Gaines, had been shot and he was unresponsive. Medical personnel arrived and Gaines was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Danville police learned that Gaines was a pizza delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza who had just delivered a pizza to an address in the area. Witnesses saw him walking back to his vehicle when two male subjects approached Gaines and tried to rob him. Witnesses stated they observed a brief struggle between the victim and the suspects and then shots were fired.
The suspects were last seen running westbound from the area. One suspect was described as a Black male about 6 feet tall with a slender build and was last seen wearing a black jacket or sweatshirt with a hood. The second suspect was described as a Black male about 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a slender build and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. No other injuries were reported during this incident.
Anyone who has information regarding this crime is asked to call Danville police at 217-431-2250 or Vermilion County Crime Stoppers at 446-TIPS.
Domino’s Pizza also offered a reward for tips in the case.
Smith said sometimes she will call the Danville Police Department to see if there are any updates to report.
She understands detectives are waiting on something from the state lab.
Gaines’ case is one of the open homicide cases Danville Police Department detectives continue to work on. It received a lot of attention early on.
DPD Deputy Chief Josh Webb is hopeful too there will be an arrest in the case.
“We have had some movement in that case. We’ve consistently been able to work that case even since it’s happened,” Webb said, about lab reports, witnesses and other things at different times. “I am confident that there will be a resolution to that case.”
When Smith hears there’s been another fatal shooting, she said she prays for the families and hopes they can find a resolution to their cases too.
“We fought with our fists,” Smith said about her days growing up. “We didn’t go and get a gun and shoot the person that we were upset and mad at. And after we fought with our fists, a few days later we were friends again.”
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers last week passed significant legislation dealing with electric vehicle manufacturing incentives and the availability of hygiene products for prisoners in the state’s correctional system.
But some weightier issues, including a possible assault weapons ban, will wait until a lame duck session scheduled for early January.
Last week, lawmakers wrapped up a five-day fall veto session that focused mainly on changes to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform package first adopted in 2021 and a $1.8 billion infusion of cash into the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
But several other bills passed as well, including an expansion of tax credits and other incentives aimed at promoting electric vehicle manufacturing in Illinois.
Last year, lawmakers passed the Reimagining Electric Vehicles in Illinois Act, or REV Illinois, that provided tax incentives for electric vehicle manufacturers, or companies that manufacture certain component parts for electric vehicles, to locate or expand in Illinois.
Under that program, companies receiving the breaks could receive a state income tax credit of 75-100 percent of payroll taxes withheld from each new employee and 25-50 percent for retained employees. The law also provided a 10 percent credit for training expenses.
The stated goal of that program was to make Illinois a hub for electric vehicle manufacturing. But other states have been getting into the game as well, including Indiana and Michigan, which some people have argued offer better incentives than Illinois.
The first and only contract under the REV Act thus far was signed between the state and T/CCI Manufacturing in Decatur in September to create an estimated $2.2 million in value for the company to retool its facility that manufactures compressors.
House Bill 5189, which cleared the General Assembly Thursday, Dec. 1, expands the incentives to be available to the makers of more component parts, and raises the maximum tax credit to 75 percent of the incremental income tax attributable to retained employees. That amount can also go to 100 percent, depending on where the jobs are located.
That language was part of an “omnibus” tax bill that also includes a five-year extension of tax deductions for contributions to ABLE accounts, a savings program for people with disabilities; an expansion of the Live Theater Production tax credit to make more productions eligible for the credit; and a provision stating that any student loan forgiveness that may be approved by the federal government will not count as taxable income for Illinois taxes.
Lawmakers also passed a bill ensuring that inmates in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections will have free access to underwear and menstrual hygiene products.
House Bill 4218, by Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, follows other bills lawmakers have passed recently that seek to end what advocates have called “period poverty.” In 2021, lawmakers passed a series of bills to expand the availability of such products, including requirements that they be made available in college and university restrooms and homeless shelters.
Another bill called on the Department of Human Services to apply for a federal waiver so the products would be eligible for purchase through the SNAP and WIC food assistance programs in Illinois.
Lame duck session
Some of the weightier issues that lawmakers hope to deal with before the next General Assembly is sworn into office are being deferred to a lame duck session that is scheduled for five days between Jan. 4 and 10.
That’s because the Illinois Constitution requires that any bill passed after May 31 of a calendar year must receive at least a three-fifths majority to have an immediate effective date. Otherwise, they do not take effect until June 1 of the following year.
But bills that pass after Jan. 1 – even during lame duck sessions that occur before newly-elected lawmakers are sworn in – need only a simple majority to have an immediate effective date.
Among the issues expected to be debated is a proposed ban on the sale or possession of assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Those are the same types of weapons and ammunition systems that have been used in multiple mass shootings in the United States. But calls for banning them in Illinois intensified after a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade last summer in Highland Park that left seven people dead and dozens more injured.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, the final day of the veto session, Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, filed HB 5855, the “Protect Illinois Communities Act,” which would make it illegal to manufacture, deliver, sell or purchase an assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50-caliber rifle or .50-caliber cartridge.
It would also make it illegal for anyone to possess such a weapon or ammunition 300 days after the effective date of the act, unless it is registered with the Illinois State Police.
The bill would also remove the ability of people under age 21 to own firearms and ammunition, with an exception for those serving in the U.S. military or National Guard.
And it would amend the state’s Firearms Restraining Order Act by allowing state’s attorneys and assistant state’s attorneys to act as a “friend of the court” in restraining order petitions while extending the maximum length of those restraining orders to one year instead of six months.
Morgan, whose district includes Highland Park, served as leader of the Firearm Safety and Reform Working Group that House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch appointed earlier this year.
“Gun violence is destroying families and communities from East St. Louis to Highland Park to Chicago, and this moment demands urgency,” Morgan said in a statement. “It is time that we had the political courage to admit that guns are a problem and that we can do something about it.”
Chief cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia; La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago; and Barbara Hernandez, all of whom have backed similar legislation in the past.
Artist’s impression of light rail in Auckland. Photo / Supplied
The Government is spending $16 million to scope and cost the next phase of light rail in Auckland, which National says is becoming a “gravy train” for consultants.
Last month, the multi-national engineering and design
“Not only have they failed to do this in the five years since they came to office, but all they have done is spend millions of taxpayer dollars on consultancy reports,” he said.
National has promised to scrap Auckland light rail if it wins next year’s general election.
Wood said continuing with the project was a priority for the Government and was confident the investment in the alliance would help set light rail up to transform how people commute in the Super City.
On the campaign trail, Brown opposed light rail, arguing no one had explained what the problem was that needed fixing and criticised Wellington-initiated projects being imposed on Auckland.
On election day, Brown also said: “Let me be very clear: Wellington’s job is to listen to what Aucklanders say are our priorities, and to fund them – not impose ideological schemes like the $30b airport tram, untrammelled housing intensification and Three Waters on a city that doesn’t want them.”
Wyoming lawmakers are considering several ways to ease the burden of soaring property taxes on residents.
The Joint Revenue Committee moved forward with five proposals during its meeting last week in Casper. These include a measure that would change the qualifications for a property tax refund program and another to give the Legislature greater flexibility to provide exemptions to residential properties.
WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.
(The Center Square) – A bill to address California’s housing crisis by making it easier to build affordable homes in underutilized commercial zones cleared a key hurdle on Monday.
The legislation, AB 2011, creates the Affordable Housing and High Roads Jobs Act, aiming to increase housing supply across the state while also creating new construction jobs. Lawmakers in the state Assembly approved it Monday.
Under the legislation, a 100% affordable housing and mixed-income housing project could be streamlined if it meets certain location and design standards, including that the project is in an area zoned for office, retail and parking lots.
Additionally, developers building in these zones must meet certain labor standards, including that they must offer a “prevailing wage” on all projects and contract with workers who are in a state-approved apprenticeship program in projects involving 50 or more units. If no apprentice workers are available, the project can still move forward.
Supporters of the bill said advancing the legislation would address the state’s need for affordable housing while also ensuring job opportunities for construction workers.
“This bill makes it easier to build housing at scale in climate friendly locations using labor standards that would be the strongest labor standards in the country if we pass this bill,” sponsoring Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, told lawmakers on Monday.
As the bill wound its way through the Assembly, it faced opposition from trade groups representing construction workers across the state. The State Building and Construction Trades Council has voiced continuous opposition against the bill, arguing that it should require a skilled and trained workforce as defined by labor law, which would, in turn, require a “certain percentage of each construction craft and trade to be unionized unless the project is subject to a Project Labor Agreement.”
The SBCTC said that without these provisions in place, “the bill provides a path to developer profits with little protections for workers and meaningful input from community members.”
“We remain opposed to any effort that would create a statewide right to develop mostly market-rate and luxury housing without, at a very minimum, basic community protections, including the requirement to use a skilled and trained workforce and pay area prevailing wages,” the SBCTC wrote.
The bill received broad support from most lawmakers on Monday, several of whom noted that the state has several underutilized properties. At the same time, tens of thousands of homeless individuals remain on the streets.
“We can’t say we want the homeless removed from in front of businesses, from our public parks; we don’t want to build on surplus properties; we don’t want to build in commercial areas, and we certainly don’t want to build in our single family home zones,” Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Orange County, said Monday.
Other lawmakers said they would support the measure to keep the conversation going but hope modifications are made to maintain local control. Assemblymember Lori Wilson, D-Solano, a former mayor and local leader for 12 years, voiced concern about the bill “automatically taking away city’s local control, ministerial review, forever without any remediation.”
“This is putting the entire state lumped together assuming that everybody…every city is doing it wrong,” Wilson said. “And so I want to make sure we’re more nuanced and that we don’t punish cities for doing it right.”
Now that the bill has passed the Assembly, it will move to the Senate. As it works through committees, Wicks said she is committed to working with stakeholders to “make a better bill” and discuss adjustments to make the legislation stronger.