Relations between local authorities and residents when it comes to council tax could probably be described as lukewarm at best. So when people who are supposed to be exempt from having to pay it are incorrectly charged, it does little to build trust in either the council tax system itself or the ability of local authorities to properly administer it.
Such a scenario appears to have unfolded in the North West recently, with a number of disabled war veterans from the Wirral seemingly being told to pay council tax, despite being classed as exempt by their local authority.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field agreed to intervene and has asked Wirral Council to investigate the oversight, after being alerted to the matter by a local War disablement pensioner who was charged council tax in error last year.
Mr Field has since become aware of several others being issued with council tax bills, despite them receiving assurances that the mistake would not recur and confirmation that all disabled war veterans would remain exempt.
Those receiving such charges have felt compelled to pay what they have been told to because they are unaware of the exempt status that being a war pensioner affords them.
The MP said: “The council rightly exempts war pensioners from paying council tax but an error has clearly occurred somewhere in the system and this needs to be sorted out.
“Any war pensioners who have recently started paying council tax should stop doing so immediately and ask the council to put this right.”
A spokesman for Wirral Council has responded to the revelations by insisting that it remains committed to ensuring that those who are eligible for council tax or housing benefit support get what they are entitled to.
He added that the qualification criteria depend on a wide range of individual circumstances and stressed that people who receive are not automatically entitled to maximum support.
However, the spokesman sought to reassure the constituency’s war veterans by stating that “additional staff training has taken place on specifics of the newer council tax support scheme to ensure that customers receive the right information.”
If you are unsure about how your council tax was calculated or believe you may be eligible for a reduced bill or an exemption, contact Council Tax Advisors for free, independent advice on your payment plan.