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'He lived his faith in his campaigns for social justice' - Paul Nicolson tribute by Zacchaeus Trust

by Cara Bentley

A north London vicar, loved for the support he gave his community through campaigning and helping those in poverty, died at the age of 87 on 5th March. 

He founded the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust to help people struggling with their payments. 

They have now issued this statement:

"Z2K is deeply saddened to hear of the death of our founder, Rev Paul Nicolson.  Paul was an absolutely tireless campaigner against the scourge of poverty in the UK, and especially against the recent cuts to Social Security benefits that have caused so much of it.

With like-minded friends, Paul founded the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust in the early-1990s to help some of those hit by Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax.  His pioneering work challenged local authorities to accept that many of their poorest residents were simply too poor to pay this tax, and ultimately contributed to the creation of Council Tax Benefit in 1993.

He later campaigned almost single-handedly against the “localisation” of Council Tax Benefit under the Coalition Government, helping to secure concessions in the House of Lords and encouraging us to challenge those London Boroughs that aimed to simply pass that cut on to their poorest residents.  At considerable personal cost, he also challenged his own local authority’s decision to start charging – a legal battle that eventually convinced a new generation of councillors to reinstate 100 per cent support.

Paul maintained a very close interest in Z2K’s work even after his retirement as our Executive Chairman.  He was incredibly supportive of all the new staff and Trustees that have followed in his wake and encouraging of our efforts to grow our services so we could help more low-income Londoners.  He was also successful in his own new organisation Taxpayers Against Poverty, which rightly sought to challenge the unthinking politics of austerity nationally and locally.

While Paul was renowned as a combative and even fierce campaigner, he was also one of the kindest of people personally, as the tributes from those who worked with him have shown. He lived his faith in his campaigns for social justice. He was a consummate operator in the corridors of power advocating for much needed policy changes. But, he was also courageous and a great believer in direct action. He only cancelled a protest outside Downing Street last week because he had been admitted to hospital. He was willing to put his liberty at risk for causes he believed in as he showed in his protests against council tax.

We will miss him deeply in the years ahead, but will take inspiration from his life and work and honour him in the way we think he would have wanted – by renewing our own efforts to fight for a London that is free from poverty and homelessness, and perhaps a little kinder too.

Paul’s wishes was that, instead of flowers, well wishes should donate to his legacy fund.  We are honoured to be one of the recipients of this funding, and will use all donations to continue to fight poverty in Paul’s footsteps"

The family’s statement is below:


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