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Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

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  • Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

    http://www.bitterwallet.com/council-...itterWallet%29


    Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

    March 23rd, 2016 • 2 CommentsBy Thewlis

    It’s that time of year again when everyone’s favourite household bill- Council Tax- starts landing on the doormat. However, what was missing from George’s budget last week (or the preceding Autumn Statement) was any reference to the coalition’s policy of capping Council Tax increases at 2%. This means that council tax rises are no longer capped- which doesn’t bode well given new numbers that show council tax as the bill most of us struggle to pay most.
    Until 2015/16, if councils wanted to push the cost up by more than 2%, they had to hold a ‘referendum’ to show why they needed the extra money. Without Governmental continuation of that policy, councils are once again free to charge what they want to- as an example, some areas of Birmingham are looking at increases of almost 8% just for this year. However, with people already struggling- now council tax has overtaken credit cards as the most common debt problem- this is only likely to make things worse.
    Research by the Debt Advisory Centre found that around 13% of people have council tax arrears. Just over half of those with arrears are in the red by up to two months and a further 5% are three months up the creek or more.
    This ties in with Citizens Advice figures, which reported a 14% increase in cases related to council tax arrears in the year to September 2015.
    But the study of 2,000 people also showed that young people aged between 18-24 are most likely to have fallen into arrears with their council tax bill with a quarter of under 25s questioned admitting to having fallen behind with council tax payments.
    So why are people not managing to pay their council tax? More than a third of those in arrears said that they failed to pay their bill because they needed to use the money to cover their rent or mortgage, which is understandable. A further fifth said they needed to pay utility bills and 14% claimed they had to keep money to buy food. In fact it was only one in six who failed to pay council tax bills because they needed to cover unsecured debt repayments such as a credit card bill.
    Melanie Taylor, a debt expert at Debt Advisory Centre, said: “Before the credit crunch, when we talked about rising numbers of people in financial difficulties, it was mainly to do with people struggling to make payments on their personal debt – such as credit cards, loans or catalogue debt.”
    “Fast-forward to today and things look quite different. While we still help lots of people who are having difficulty repaying credit, we have seen a rise in the number of who are struggling to pay their household bills, and in particular, their council tax.”
    One reason for the increase in people struggling generally, and specifically with council tax may be that many councils have cut back on the Council Tax discounts or relief that they offer low-income residents during their period of enforced capped increases. It remains to be seen whether the additional percentages whacked on to this years’ bills will have included provision for some reinstatement of reliefs.
    CAVEAT LECTOR

    This is only my opinion - "
    Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

    You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
    Cohen, Herb

    There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
    gets his brain a-going.
    Phelps, C. C.

    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
    The last words of John Sedgwick
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

    For my sins, I worked in Council Tax recovery ( among other delicious things such as business rate and housing benefit recovery ) for 23 years, retiring gracefully in 2014.

    We had a days course in changes to council tax and council tax support ( benefit ) early 2013 and we were made fully aware that substantial hikes were on the way principally due to changes in the way that council tax support was calculated. This meant that people who may have received 100% council tax reduction, many from April 1993 when it was introduced, will for the first time have bills to pay. We understood some areas may be affected immediately, others gradually introduced over a four year period.

    I am aware from local examples where I live that the 2016/17 council tax bill has been hiked by some 4% but added into the equation are people who will now have to face paying a minimum of 20% of the council tax bill for possibly the first time ever ( i.e. those who previously received 100% reduction. ) This only applies to non pensionable working age people but includes people on high levels of benefit.

    Added to that, for those that also receive housing benefits, are changes to the that as well where people who may have previously received full housing benefit will now have to make a contribution to that as well.

    These changes combined are going to make a substantial dent in the finances of people who can least afford it. Some may call that a Robin Hood strategy!

    We will see this in operation as new council tax bills starting the 1st April 2016 land on mats and adjustment notices are sent out dictating reduced levels of council tax support and housing benefit.

    When I started in local government in 1992, we still had Community Charge ( the dreaded Poll Tax ) and that included a 20% minimum charge on everyone, so from what I am seeing, we are going back to a similar system, apart from the fact that Community Charge was 'per head' against council tax being 'per household'. WE had massive levels of community charge debt then as we will no doubt see again. The 2016 changes are to my mind, too radical, too fast and too expensive. This will involve a lot more work for local councils who will probably not have the staff to cope. Personal debt, especially among the low paid and people uniquely on benefit income, must begin to soar even higher. And we call this progress?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

      Originally posted by Snoopy1948 View Post
      For my sins, I worked in Council Tax recovery ( among other delicious things such as business rate and housing benefit recovery ) for 23 years, retiring gracefully in 2014.

      We had a days course in changes to council tax and council tax support ( benefit ) early 2013 and we were made fully aware that substantial hikes were on the way principally due to changes in the way that council tax support was calculated. This meant that people who may have received 100% council tax reduction, many from April 1993 when it was introduced, will for the first time have bills to pay. We understood some areas may be affected immediately, others gradually introduced over a four year period.

      I am aware from local examples where I live that the 2016/17 council tax bill has been hiked by some 4% but added into the equation are people who will now have to face paying a minimum of 20% of the council tax bill for possibly the first time ever ( i.e. those who previously received 100% reduction. ) This only applies to non pensionable working age people but includes people on high levels of benefit.

      Added to that, for those that also receive housing benefits, are changes to the that as well where people who may have previously received full housing benefit will now have to make a contribution to that as well.

      These changes combined are going to make a substantial dent in the finances of people who can least afford it. Some may call that a Robin Hood strategy!

      We will see this in operation as new council tax bills starting the 1st April 2016 land on mats and adjustment notices are sent out dictating reduced levels of council tax support and housing benefit.

      When I started in local government in 1992, we still had Community Charge ( the dreaded Poll Tax ) and that included a 20% minimum charge on everyone, so from what I am seeing, we are going back to a similar system, apart from the fact that Community Charge was 'per head' against council tax being 'per household'. WE had massive levels of community charge debt then as we will no doubt see again. The 2016 changes are to my mind, too radical, too fast and too expensive. This will involve a lot more work for local councils who will probably not have the staff to cope. Personal debt, especially among the low paid and people uniquely on benefit income, must begin to soar even higher. And we call this progress?
      Thanks, Snoopy.

      I would like to add to your comments the fact that (from what I've seen), the vast majority of those affected will be 'can't pay' as opposed to 'won't pay'.
      & it will be those people, probably already at their wit's end re debt/low income etc who will be hit with Liability Orders & Enforcement Action bills. (which is, imho, a punitive tax on the poor so as to enrich LG/Magistrates Court/Bailiff companies)
      UK PLC 2016...........................It stinks!
      [MENTION=15129]Crazy council[/MENTION]? [MENTION=8136]outlawlgo[/MENTION] [MENTION=9189]bizzybob[/MENTION]?
      CAVEAT LECTOR

      This is only my opinion - "
      Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

      You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
      Cohen, Herb

      There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
      gets his brain a-going.
      Phelps, C. C.

      "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
      The last words of John Sedgwick

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

        What makes it worse is at the same time the cost of services is going up the councils are reducing what services they provide. That, or charge additional to your council tax.

        Wasn't it the X Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles who produced a "50 ways" guide to increase revenue by taking these measure which also included raising more through fines?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

          The C Tax rise is supposed to be helping towards Social Care costs and only that., I just hope we can get the figures on this because I don't believe for one minute our council will use the rise for this purpose, or if they do it will be because they have already cut back so far any rise would not get them back to square one.

          George Osborne is preparing to allow councils to raise council tax by up to 2% in their areas if they are facing a social care funding crisis, which could raise up to £2bn.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

            Originally posted by enaid View Post
            The C Tax rise is supposed to be helping towards Social Care costs and only that., I just hope we can get the figures on this because I don't believe for one minute our council will use the rise for this purpose, or if they do it will be because they have already cut back so far any rise would not get them back to square one.

            George Osborne is preparing to allow councils to raise council tax by up to 2% in their areas if they are facing a social care funding crisis, which could raise up to £2bn.
            So, hit poor folks with an LO, drive them further into poverty & then force them to go cap in hand to their caring local council?

            You couldn't make it up, could you!
            CAVEAT LECTOR

            This is only my opinion - "
            Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

            You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
            Cohen, Herb

            There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
            gets his brain a-going.
            Phelps, C. C.

            "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
            The last words of John Sedgwick

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

              Originally posted by charitynjw View Post
              Thanks, Snoopy.

              I would like to add to your comments the fact that (from what I've seen), the vast majority of those affected will be 'can't pay' as opposed to 'won't pay'.
              & it will be those people, probably already at their wit's end re debt/low income etc who will be hit with Liability Orders & Enforcement Action bills. (which is, imho, a punitive tax on the poor so as to enrich LG/Magistrates Court/Bailiff companies)
              UK PLC 2016...........................It stinks!
              @Crazy council? @outlawlgo @bizzybob?
              Thanks CharityNJW ...

              You are right, this will open up a whole new can of worms, not only for the debt advice agencies but also costs to the councils as to how they deal with and enforce non payment. IT can only add to their burden and hence put more pressure on funding. I have spent many years giving opinion on what constitutes 'can't pay' versus 'won't pay' and often there is a very blurred line between the two. But when you meet people who scream at you that 'they simply cannot pay' and yet maintain their two holidays abroad every year, the latest iPhone, wine bottles filling their fridges and dustbins and a gleaming 4x4 on the drive, one does get confused!
              There is also a suspected issue of the Valuation Office Agency upgrading new builds to much higher ctax bandings than they would have merited back in 1993. I can only see one reason for this and that is some 'backdoor government discretion' that new bandings need to be 'optimistically higher' to simply put more potential money in the local authority's coffers.
              I sometimes wish we had retained Community Charge as it was a fairer basis to tax every adult and not just those that were classed as the main householder. I have seen many examples of struggling parents trying to pay council taxes where four other adults shared the property without a jot of responsibility to pay the tax. The problem with Community Charge, despite is being a more level playing field, was that it was a nightmare to administer and involved copious staffing levels, time and money to ensure people were being billed in the right place at the right time. And like all legal battles, in order to take people to court for non payment of poll tax, you had to have their residential record spot on.
              Time will tell but I predict the media will be filled with anecdotal evidence of increased debt levels this year doe to council tax and benefit changes.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

                [MENTION=141]enaid[/MENTION] said

                The C Tax rise is supposed to be helping towards Social Care costs and only that.
                they lie there arses off check this
                http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/Ti...ail/story.html

                MORE than £270,000 was diverted from "caring from the elderly" by council tax evaders last year, the leader of North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) has said – and an increasing number of people are facing court proceedings.Council leader Chris Shaw said that council tax evasion is "not a victimless crime" and that the £272,381 written off in the financial year 2010-11 could have been "better spent caring for the elderly in their homes".


                so, i new that was wrong ( was intersted in the write off ammount )

                https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/council_tax_debt_written_off_odd#incoming-251679

                In todays evening telegraph, the council have stated that £ 272,381 has been written off for council tax, and that this has lead to a loss of revenue for Old people.
                Please can you detail the following.
                1. How many accounts are involved in this
                2. what were the reasons for writing off these accounts ( I believe you have about 10 or 12 valid reasons for writing off debt, ) can you list them and the number of accounts against each please.
                3. Of all these accounts, what was the highest single amount written off
                4. Off all these accounts, what was the lowest amount written off.
                5. How many of the above accounts had a claim for benefit refused for any part of the period your writing off.
                6. If its not fully answerable by question 2, what are all the valid reasons the council would write a debt off.

                The relationship between the figures stated and the £ 272,381 now not available for caring for the elderly.
                7. Will the budget for care for the elderly be reduced by the above amount as stated solely because of this written off of assumed debt.
                8. What were the links between this write off and this claimed loss of the elderly that lead to the statement in the paper.

                9. On the same accounting principle your stating here, does elderly care recive less money than it could, due to the average of £12,313 per month. Spent on council buffets
                they answerd

                I can make you aware that the figure reported to the Grimsby Telegraph was incorrect.

                After receiving your request a thorough search was undertaken of the accounts written off. It was found on one account that a sum of £267,172.05 had been written off the system due to an inputting error and was showing on the Write off Report. This figure including other write offs were included in the final figure.

                This anomaly should not have been included in the final figure given to the Grimsby Telegraph and has now been rectified. The actual figure has now been forwarded to the Grimsby Telegraph via our ommunications Team.

                The actual in year write off figure should have been £4,270.89. I should make you aware that this figure is for amounts Raised and Written Off in the same financial year.

                The figure given to the Grimsby Telegraph was for the Financial Year 1^st April 2010 to the 31^st March 2011.

                With the above in mind I can give you the correct figures that you ask for;

                1. How many accounts are involved in this 91 Accounts

                2. what were the reasons for writing off these accounts ( I believe you have about 10 or 12 valid reasons for writing off debt, ) can you list them and the number of accounts against each please.

                Write Off: 68 Accounts (Vulnerability, Statute Barred, Small Balances, Long Term Prison, Prison no address to return to)


                Absconded: 1 Account
                Bankrupt: 15 Accounts
                Deceased: 7 Accounts
                Remitted: 0 Accounts

                3. Of all these accounts, what was the highest single amount written off£996.21

                4. Off all these accounts, what was the lowest amount written off.£0.01

                5. How many of the above accounts had a claim for benefit refused for any part of the period your writing off.We do not hold this information.

                6. If its not fully answerable by question 2, what are all the valid reasons the council would write a debt off.

                See response to Question 2.

                7. Will the budget for care for the elderly be reduced by the above amount as stated solely because of this written off of assumed debt.

                No. In preparing the councils budgets assumptions are made of likely council tax collection rates based on historic experience. However, if everybody paid their council tax there would be more money available to
                invest in priority services, e.g. caring for the elderly, filling potholes or spending on education.

                8. What were the links between this write off and this claimed loss of the elderly that lead to the statement in the paper.

                Please see response to Question 7. If council tax collection rates were improved there would be more funding available for investment in priority services.

                9. On the same accounting principle your stating here, does elderly care recive less money than it could, due to the average of £12,313 per month. Spent on council buffets

                We are looking at all opportunities to minimise or eliminate non-essential spending in order to protect priority and front-line services.
                I went on further to get details of the write off for my own research.,, you can read it on the FOI request




                crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Council tax bills hiked as many struggle to pay

                  £267,172.05 - £4,270.89.= £262901.16 written off for another reason other than CT?

                  Statute Barred, pull the other one lol

                  Comment

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