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Council Tax

From James Lee

Thursday, 28 May 2020

I'm wondering if anyone else is in a similar situation to myself and can maybe shed some light on the matter. In March I received a letter from the council saying my property was exempt from council tax for 12 months as a result of February's flood, my neighbours also received this letter. I have now received a letter outlining the costs for the year ahead and that I need to make payment immediately.

I would like to get my facts right before I challenge the council on this, any advice would be greatly welcomed.

From Nitch T

Friday, 29 May 2020

All the residents where I live have had exactly as you describe. Somewhere on the council website it talks about a 3 month rebate so we assumed some problem as this crossed the new tax year. But if you do challenge it, would be helpful to know and disseminate.

Seems unreasonable to say no council tax for a year and then send a bill a couple of months later when nothing has changed? Still no grant forms for the flood resilience yet either though they are apparently coming in June.

From Alan Truman

Friday, 5 June 2020

It was clearly a 3 month break for flood affected properties - as it was in 2015. The letter my niece received clearly stated 3 not 12 months plus press releases issued at the time were clear on that as well. I saw the council tax bill and although unclear i dont think many people would assume that they were magically getting a whole year for free as well. These are desperate times for local Government and a whole year's worth of lost tax for over 700 affected properties would be potentially drastic for other services including social care.

From John Mooney

Friday, 5 June 2020

Perhaps it was 'clearly a 3 month period ' but the bill sent out in March was also very clear in stating that the bill for the year 2020/2021 was zero. It explicitly says that there is a 100% discount for this financial year.

2 months later another bill was sent out with no covering letter or acknowledgement that a mistake had been made.

I complained to the Council and have now received a response from the Head of Finance. (He's hardly an unbiased person to look at this complaint.The complaints procedure is lamentable.)

Anyway, he apologised for the 'misunderstanding' and confirmed the second bill is correct.

My suggestion that they write to all receiving the bills apologising and offering a rebate and/or extended time to pay the bill for those in financial difficulty because of their error was not addressed.

However, a statement will be put on the Council's website and those having difficulty making payments are invited to contact the Council Tax section 01422 288003.

It's not a matter of magically getting a year off but the council assisting those who may already have been in financial difficulty whose lives they have made worse.

From Alan Truman

Sunday, 7 June 2020

I think this is a bit of a non-issue. Ive looked for any evidence of anger or confusion over this online from (or on behalf of) other people similarly affected and am drawing a blank.

You say the “council” have made peoples lives worse. The fact a (clearly advertised) 3 month break was issued in the first place is hardly making anything worse - completely the opposite in fact and the superb way they co-ordinated the flood effort, from mental health support, door to door check ups and the clean up through the hubs was a marvel.

Since then, the volunteer support for Covid has worked seamlessly, providing a vital lifeline for many vulnerable and shielding people (including a neighbour of mine).

Its disingenuous to claim this is anything but an admin error - one obvious to anyone receiving the 3 month break and one easily remedied by a phone call to the council. Those that did ask for the 3 month break will have factored that into their finances. I doubt one single person really thought in March “Oh, ive got an extra year free”.

Good to hear for clarity they are addressing this on their website but i do think they have far more pressing concerns at the moment. Pick your battles, this isn't one of them.