FOI request reveals 10 Sutton councillors missed council tax payments

It will come as little comfort to those residents in Sutton who have struggled to pay their council tax in the past year, but at least they are not alone.

No, I am not talking about their neighbours or friends but the 10 Sutton councillors who a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed missed payments between January 2013 and January 2014.

One councillor had a liability order issued against them and even received a court summons before paying, while the other nine had to be reminded to pay up last year.

Council figures indicate that it sent 16 letters to 10 councillors who failed to pay on time, but somewhat unfairly, Sutton Council has said the councillors cannot be identified due to data protection regulations.

Seven of the offending officials received one reminder over unpaid council tax, while one received four reminders, another received three, and a third had to be notified twice.

Sutton Council uses a computerised system to monitor and record tax payments, which automatically sends out a letter when one is missed.

A spokesman from the authority said: “None of Sutton’s councillors were in council tax arrears for the financial year 2013 to 2014.

“Councillors are treated in exactly the same way as any member of the public in that, if they miss or partly pay a monthly payment, our automated system triggers a notice to remind them that payment is needed.

“This happened 16 times in the last year and the outstanding amounts were subsequently paid.”

In October last year three reminder letters were dispatched to recover £176, £128 and £256 respectively and in August 2013 two more were posted, with one of them seeking arrears of £451.

The figures suggest councillors were being reminded about a single monthly payment, with the amounts tending to fall within a range of £100 to £180.

Andy Silvester, a member of campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance criticised the councillors over their missed payments and warned that the follow-up action would only result in an increase in council tax bills for members of the public.

“It costs the council money to chase up late payments and councillors should really know better.

“Every penny of avoidable spending unnecessarily puts up local residents’ council taxes.”

While this claim would be open for debate, these findings certainly illustrate that missed council tax payments can affect anybody. If you are struggling to pay your council tax, it is important to remember that help is at hand. Contact Council Tax Advisors today for free, independent advice.

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