Council Tax Nightmare
Tuesday, October 30th, 2007 @ 10:59PM
As regular readers will know, I moved house over the summer months and had a hellish time doing it. Particularly as the flat I was supposed to move into was flooded because of dodgy repair works 3 floors above. The damage was bad but not half as crap as the landlords attempts to rectify the situation. So after 10 weeks and no effort on the landlords behalf to sort the sorry mess out, I upped sticks and moved house gain.
The day before I moved house, I emailed the council to notify them of my new address and requested a new council tax book. I know it was read because I’ve still got the read receipt and the name of the Council staffer who opened it. By the end of September I still hadn’t received my council tax book so I wrote a proper letter to the Revenue & Benefits Division asking for a new book - making reference to the email I sent at the start of the month.
4 weeks on again and I’ve still not received anything so I’ve written to my Councillor in the hope that she might be able to chase it up. All I want to do is to pay my damn council tax! How hard can it be?!
There’s a more serious point here though. It’s clear that the council are under resourced and have been for years. However, the Revenue & Benefits Division have no problem chasing people for late payments, sending very threatening letters out to people who are just days late in paying their council tax. When I was a welfare adviser I used to see scores of very distressed students - who weren’t even liable to pay council tax - come into our advice centre with letters making demands for money within 7 days or face court action.
For people who don’t know their rights or don’t have ready access to advice services this must be awful. It can be of no great surprise to anyone that lots of people choose to stick their head in the sand rather than face up to mounting debts.
It strikes me that the Council would be far better placed ensuring people like me get their council tax books and pay their way in the first place rather than putting all their efforts into forcing those in financial trouble to pay up.
Incidentally - there’s no prize for the first smart arse to say that none of this would happen if we scrapped the council tax and replaced it with a local income tax.