A vicar is refusing to pay his council tax in protest against the cap on the amount of welfare a person can receive and changes to council tax benefit.

The Rev Paul Nicolson, of Campbell Road, believes the Government and Haringey Council are charging the poorest in society when they are the least able to pay.

The 80-year-old has cancelled his £99 per month direct debit to the council and said he is seeking legal advice to make sure everything is in order if he is taken to court.

He said: “This is not the first time I have used civil disobedience to highlight a social issue – back in 1990 I refused to pay the poll tax.

“I think these changes are a colossal mistake because it hurts the very poorest.

“I’m particularly worried about vulnerable adults as many will be forced into debt because they can’t afford to pay rent.”

Rev Nicolson claims 26,000 people in the borough will be affected by these changes and many will be forced to reduce the amount spent on food, clothing, fuel and other essentials.

He said: “I’m trying to help a single mother with three children who has just had a third of her benefits cut.

“If that much was cut from your pay cheque you would certainly feel it.

“I’m not trying to alarm people but I do think for a lot of people the stress will be too much to bear.”

Rev Nicolson founded Taxpayers against Poverty last year to oppose welfare changes which affect the poor.

He said the decision to protest was a personal one which he is entirely responsible for and it was taken without the prior knowledge of the Church of England or of any groups he is associated with.

The former Buckinghamshire vicar said: “I absolutely feel like I have a responsibility to take a stand on the issue.

“I’m not at all worried about going to prison because I have done a lot of work in prisons in the past and we have a good relationship.

“But I wouldn’t advise anyone to follow my lead or do anything which may cause them to end up in prison.”