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Council Tax Problem

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Back in July, my mother was in court for non-payment of council tax (we've struggled financially for most of my life - i'm now 24 but it's been worse since I've been ill and have had my ESA stopped, they refuse to reassess but I digress). An agreement was set up between the court, the council and my mother to pay £110 each month for the current financial year, and £50 onto the arrears, which would be increased to £100 in January when another loan was paid off. It was set up through direct debit (which bounced the last 2 months due to my mother moving her money into my account as we've been dealing with an issue of identity theft) but BOTH months were paid from my bank account so NO payments have been missed what so ever.

 

Here's my issue. Before we went to court, we disputed the amount the council said we owed because our bank statements did not match what the account stated (and it was probably close to £800 difference). The council argued and stuck their heels in, refusing to consider we may be right. We had all the evidence to prove we were right and it took the solicitor a while for them to even look into it. We were correct and the court decided to reduce the bill by £1000 in total (to make up for their mistake and deduct what we had paid). We left that issue as that mainly because we understand they have to deal with a lot of accounts and mistakes do happen. At this point, if we missed a payment, my mother would be going to jail as it had reached that point.

 

Around 2 weeks ago, we got a copy of every statement from this year and prior years we owe money on posted through the door as well as a threat about court. Obviously knowing we had paid and not missed a payment we rang up and spoke to someone. Apparently because the DD bounced it flagged their system and that's why they were posted. The woman we spoke to said everything was still fine and we were obviously up to date with the payments. My mother explained the identity fraud issue going on and apologised for any issue it had caused because we obviously want to make sure there's no issues or faults.

 

Yesterday, we received another letter. This time it was a magistrates summons. Again, no payment missed so there's no real reason why this has been sent. I rang up myself (mother works during the day and we tried for 2 hours after she got home yesterday to get through, to no avail). I was told the letter was sent because the amount we agreed was £110 for this year's bill and £100 for the arrears a month. I obviously know that's not true, but the good ol' council again stuck their heels in. After a good 20 minutes of arguing with this lovely woman, I was told that she would remove the summons and make a new agreement. I refused and said until I know for certain (IE have proof) that the amount has changed, I would be staying with the £110 on this year, and £50 arrears until Jan as that is what is stated on the letter from my solicitor about the agreement. I also stated I was not setting up a new DD as I do not want to be over charged and left short nor have them go against the court. She also stated that WE had cancelled the DD (we had not, it had apparently been cancelled because it bounced back on two occasions according to the call prior). She also agreed to send a copy of what is on their system - BUT i believe we have a copy somewhere in the house.

 

 

What I want to know is what the hell do I do? My mother has been in a state for the past 2 weeks, hardly sleeping and just being a mess and I'm not much better off (and dealing with Severe depression and anxiety, it leaves me in a very unsteady state of worry). I don't want to be dealing with this every few months because of an error on their system or just because its a Tuesday and they want to stir things up. It's becoming a joke and I'm beyond exhausted. We constantly struggle, its not like we have money and refuse to pay or go on holidays or have cars ect. I live in a house where everything is broken and we have to gather the coppers some months to put it on the electric just to last until either I get PIP (which most months sees us until pay day) or my mother gets paid.

 

ANY advice would be very welcome or if anyone else has faced the same issues before (PS...sorry for the very long post if anyone does read this)

 

 

 

*PLEASE NOTE : We are currently speaking to a solicitor at Howells who came to court with us in July and she is looking into why this has happened and why their system shows a different agreement.

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Back in July, my mother was in court for non-payment of council tax (we've struggled financially for most of my life - i'm now 24 but it's been worse since I've been ill and have had my ESA stopped, they refuse to reassess but I digress). An agreement was set up between the court, the council and my mother to pay £110 each month for the current financial year, and £50 onto the arrears, which would be increased to £100 in January when another loan was paid off. It was set up through direct debit (which bounced the last 2 months due to my mother moving her money into my account as we've been dealing with an issue of identity theft) but BOTH months were paid from my bank account so NO payments have been missed what so ever.

 

Here's my issue. Before we went to court, we disputed the amount the council said we owed because our bank statements did not match what the account stated (and it was probably close to £800 difference). The council argued and stuck their heels in, refusing to consider we may be right. We had all the evidence to prove we were right and it took the solicitor a while for them to even look into it. We were correct and the court decided to reduce the bill by £1000 in total (to make up for their mistake and deduct what we had paid). We left that issue as that mainly because we understand they have to deal with a lot of accounts and mistakes do happen. At this point, if we missed a payment, my mother would be going to jail as it had reached that point.

 

Around 2 weeks ago, we got a copy of every statement from this year and prior years we owe money on posted through the door as well as a threat about court. Obviously knowing we had paid and not missed a payment we rang up and spoke to someone. Apparently because the DD bounced it flagged their system and that's why they were posted. The woman we spoke to said everything was still fine and we were obviously up to date with the payments. My mother explained the identity fraud issue going on and apologised for any issue it had caused because we obviously want to make sure there's no issues or faults.

 

Yesterday, we received another letter. This time it was a magistrates summons. Again, no payment missed so there's no real reason why this has been sent. I rang up myself (mother works during the day and we tried for 2 hours after she got home yesterday to get through, to no avail). I was told the letter was sent because the amount we agreed was £110 for this year's bill and £100 for the arrears a month. I obviously know that's not true, but the good ol' council again stuck their heels in. After a good 20 minutes of arguing with this lovely woman, I was told that she would remove the summons and make a new agreement. I refused and said until I know for certain (IE have proof) that the amount has changed, I would be staying with the £110 on this year, and £50 arrears until Jan as that is what is stated on the letter from my solicitor about the agreement. I also stated I was not setting up a new DD as I do not want to be over charged and left short nor have them go against the court. She also stated that WE had cancelled the DD (we had not, it had apparently been cancelled because it bounced back on two occasions according to the call prior). She also agreed to send a copy of what is on their system - BUT i believe we have a copy somewhere in the house.

 

 

What I want to know is what the hell do I do? My mother has been in a state for the past 2 weeks, hardly sleeping and just being a mess and I'm not much better off (and dealing with Severe depression and anxiety, it leaves me in a very unsteady state of worry). I don't want to be dealing with this every few months because of an error on their system or just because its a Tuesday and they want to stir things up. It's becoming a joke and I'm beyond exhausted. We constantly struggle, its not like we have money and refuse to pay or go on holidays or have cars ect. I live in a house where everything is broken and we have to gather the coppers some months to put it on the electric just to last until either I get PIP (which most months sees us until pay day) or my mother gets paid.

 

ANY advice would be very welcome or if anyone else has faced the same issues before (PS...sorry for the very long post if anyone does read this)

 

 

 

*PLEASE NOTE : We are currently speaking to a solicitor at Howells who came to court with us in July and she is looking into why this has happened and why their system shows a different agreement.

 

I'd pay in cash at a post office then keep all receipts as each one is time and date stamped ,then if any problems you've got proof of what you've paid and when

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The first problem is that if the direct debit was due on the 1st of the month and it bounced how many days after did you pay it? If the arrangement still set to be paid on a certain date and are you paying it bang on that date? Because if you are paying it even a day later it will flag up that there is a missed payment. These arrangements are really strict.

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Think positively

It’s only three months jail max, and whilst it doesn’t actually wipe the debt, they won’t pursue you for the outstanding amount.

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Regardless of what your solicitor has said, where is your copy of the court order?

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Hang in there. It sounds like another computer glitch that hasn't caught up, or has not been entered properly on their system. If it goes to court again then your solicitor should be able to put them right. Isn't it good to know that our taxes are being used to pursue hideously expensive court cases that don't need to happen if someone would just pull their finger out and use their common sense...?

 

This seems to be happening all the time in all sorts of areas - not being able to get through on the phone, not being able to talk to people who know what to do, they simply cannot deal with anything even mildly complicated, waiting to see if they've done what they said they would, then having to repeat yourself over and over again when they haven't. I don't think they understand the anxiety and frustration it causes. It's hideous. But it seems to be endemic in modern life.

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The first problem is that if the direct debit was due on the 1st of the month and it bounced how many days after did you pay it? If the arrangement still set to be paid on a certain date and are you paying it bang on that date? Because if you are paying it even a day later it will flag up that there is a missed payment. These arrangements are really strict.

 

From what I remember, as long as it was paid during the month, it was fine. The direct debit was set up to ensure it was paid each month rather than a set date for it to be paid by. Again, they are aware the DD was 'cancelled' and the woman we spoke to on the 10th Nov said as long as it's paid each month then that's completely fine BUT I'll be paying it myself on the 1st of every month from now to see if that is what keeps flagging the system in that retrospect.

 

---------- Post added 22-11-2017 at 08:49 ----------

 

Regardless of what your solicitor has said, where is your copy of the court order?

 

We have a copy somewhere and I'll be searching the entire house today to find where my mother has put it (the house is usually turned upside down these days) but I know we do have one and I know i'll find it and make sure I'm not mistaken with the amount. But again, I very much doubt 3 people would have been mistaken as I did sit in during the hearing itself.

 

---------- Post added 22-11-2017 at 09:02 ----------

 

Hang in there. It sounds like another computer glitch that hasn't caught up, or has not been entered properly on their system. If it goes to court again then your solicitor should be able to put them right. Isn't it good to know that our taxes are being used to pursue hideously expensive court cases that don't need to happen if someone would just pull their finger out and use their common sense...?

 

This seems to be happening all the time in all sorts of areas - not being able to get through on the phone, not being able to talk to people who know what to do, they simply cannot deal with anything even mildly complicated, waiting to see if they've done what they said they would, then having to repeat yourself over and over again when they haven't. I don't think they understand the anxiety and frustration it causes. It's hideous. But it seems to be endemic in modern life.

 

It's never any different in regards to the council in my opinion. I always try and give them the benifit of the doubt and try to explain to my mother what reasons could be behind things happening (IE with it not going through as a DD maybe it had just tripped in the system) but with regards to other things they just seem to believe the people who ring know nothing what so ever and that they're somewhat superior, especially speaking to the woman yesterday, it was very hard to keep my cool as she was speaking to me as though I were a child who knew absolutely nothing, even when I did say perhaps I may be wrong but until I have confirmation (IE a court letter with the agreement on) I was sticking to what I believe to be true and what my solicitor had also on her own records.

 

I honestly do not believe the council have an ounce of common sense or compassion in regards to things like this and even when you try to sort it and get things in motion they either flat out refuse (we've had this before) or they just can't comprehend that maybe their system may not be correct and they should spend a little bit of time looking into it. It's always like pulling teeth and it just continues the cycle. If they were more helpful or if you could even get through to someone when you need to, it would help a lot of people out, rather than belittling those who may need that bit of help.

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I would contact either a local councillor or your MP. Most councillors are fairly useless, but nevertheless the Council pay attention when they get a complaint from a councillor. Obviously they then have to get Capita to do something about it, since it's them who actually provide the the service. You should also keep a written record of everything including days, times, names etc.

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I would contact either a local councillor or your MP. Most councillors are fairly useless, but nevertheless the Council pay attention when they get a complaint from a councillor. Obviously they then have to get Capita to do something about it, since it's them who actually provide the the service. You should also keep a written record of everything including days, times, names etc.

 

I will be emailing the local MP and writing a formal complaint to the council as well, that's my next port of call. I have a note of when I rang yesterday but I don't think we have a record of when we rang on the 10th (just that I know we rang on the 10th). I'm just hoping it gets looked into properly and not just swept under the carpet.

 

---------- Post added 22-11-2017 at 15:20 ----------

 

BIT OF AN UPDATE

 

Rang them up today again because something looked off on the account (saw we had some arrangements on there and I wanted to make sure the person we spoke to yesterday hadn't set them up without mums permission) and I got some what of an excuse of an answer for the reasons why the magistrates court letter/date had been sent/set up.

 

It was apparently because letters got crosswired. Now, correct me if i'm wrong in thinking this, but if myself, my mother and the solicitor all know the amount agreed in court because we were in the same court room as the council/council representative... wouldn't they also have had the right figures/access to the right figures? So how is it that the council got their side of things wrong? The solicitor had to email someone at the council who deals with council tax for them to realise their system was incorrect, but how was it incorrect in the first place?

 

I have also started the formal complaint route and I am now drafting an email to the local MP about it. Something needs to be done to stop this happening again, not just with us, but with other people because I very much doubt were the only ones where the 'system' has had flaws or mistakes on the account.

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I will be emailing the local MP and writing a formal complaint to the council as well, that's my next port of call. I have a note of when I rang yesterday but I don't think we have a record of when we rang on the 10th (just that I know we rang on the 10th). I'm just hoping it gets looked into properly and not just swept under the carpet.

 

---------- Post added 22-11-2017 at 15:20 ----------

 

BIT OF AN UPDATE

 

Rang them up today again because something looked off on the account (saw we had some arrangements on there and I wanted to make sure the person we spoke to yesterday hadn't set them up without mums permission) and I got some what of an excuse of an answer for the reasons why the magistrates court letter/date had been sent/set up.

 

It was apparently because letters got crosswired. Now, correct me if i'm wrong in thinking this, but if myself, my mother and the solicitor all know the amount agreed in court because we were in the same court room as the council/council representative... wouldn't they also have had the right figures/access to the right figures? So how is it that the council got their side of things wrong? The solicitor had to email someone at the council who deals with council tax for them to realise their system was incorrect, but how was it incorrect in the first place?

 

I have also started the formal complaint route and I am now drafting an email to the local MP about it. Something needs to be done to stop this happening again, not just with us, but with other people because I very much doubt were the only ones where the 'system' has had flaws or mistakes on the account.

 

It's good that you are complaining. They are in a mess and it's the general public who are suffering. Get this - if you make an arrangment and then pay more than the agreed amount, they summons you. For Christ's sake.

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It's good that you are complaining. They are in a mess and it's the general public who are suffering. Get this - if you make an arrangment and then pay more than the agreed amount, they summons you. For Christ's sake.

 

That's generally how they work. It seems as though they put themselves on a pedistal and can do no wrong, but everyone else is just trash to them. Even when you do try to make ammends or sort things out OR even stick to anything set out by them, you're still in the wrong. It feels like the blind leading the blind.

 

Hilariously, today we had a call (I was upstairs and didn't make it to the phone in time) from the council who left a voice mail about servicing the fire. We still haven't had time to sort that out from a year ago (we haven't used the fire in a year) and I think the last we heard from them regarding it was several months ago now. I'll be getting that sorted as soon as I find out what days off my mother has as I do not feel comfortable being left in the house alone with someone I don't know for extended periods of time. But I would bet money that the next thing we hear is about the garden (I can't manage it with pain levels and mum doesn't have the time to even do anything with it. 2 days off a week and its usually being spent cleaning around the house and other issues). We can't afford a gardener to come do something with it and when we asked them for some form of help with it they refused so. It'll be the next thing they throw up. But I digress, I've been through a lot of hard times in my life, and I refuse to let this break me down.

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Think positively

It’s only three months jail max, and whilst it doesn’t actually wipe the debt, they won’t pursue you for the outstanding amount.

 

three months murders dont get much longer :D

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