Swindon AdvertiserSupport to people out of work had an impact on more council tax unpaid (From Swindon Advertiser)

Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us

Support to people out of work had an impact on more council tax unpaid

Swindon Advertiser: Martin Wicks Martin Wicks

THE amount of unpaid council tax in Swindon has risen in the past year, following changes in the amount of support given to unemployed residents.

At the end of May, there was a total of £2.8m not paid, compared with £2.2m in the previous year, which later dropped to £1.4m after debts were paid later in the year.

There has also been a drop of 0.5 per cent in the collection rate, the first reduction for more than five years.

Critics have said a reason for this is a change in policy which meant those of working age had a 20 per cent reduction in the support they received for council tax following cuts in Government funding.

Council leaders have said while they understand the effect the change has had, the overall impact has not been as great as they first believed and much of the figure will be recuperated over the next 12 months.

Martin Wicks, secretary of the Swindon Tenants’ Campaign Group, said: “When people are on a tight income the smallest changes can make a big difference.

“I have not had people come to me directly with the problem but these figures show clearly that there is a problem.

“There are a number of councils who have fought against the 20 per cent change so it is disappointing to see it here.”

Leader of the Labour Group, Coun Jim Grant, said: “Many of the people affected by the council tax benefit changes are in low-paid work or suffer from a disability.

“They simply do not have the money to pay council tax on top of their other bills and that was why they were on full council tax benefit in the first place.

“Yet again it seems the Govern-ment has delivered an ill-thought policy to pay for the deficit by trying to take money from the vulnerable and poor when it should be the bankers they are targeting.

“My real worry is that the council has a duty to collect this money off our vulnerable residents and that could lead to bailiff action.”

Coun Russell Holland (Con, St Margaret and South Marston), the cabinet member for finance, said: “When the changes came into effect we expected there to be an increase in the number of people falling behind.

“We fully understand the plight of everyone who is struggling but the reality is the effect has not been as dramatic as we would have expected. The drop in collection rate has only been 0.5 per cent which is not as dramatic as we would first have thought.

“The last thing we want to see are bailiffs coming around to people who are in trouble, so my message to people is if they are having difficulties to contact the council straight away so we can try and come up with a solution.”

Anyone facing council tax problems can call 0345 3022316.

Comments (21)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

6:49am Wed 25 Jun 14

swindondad says...

IMHO if some of those on benefit are having difficulty paying their bills then council tax and rent should be deducted at source.

As a employee my PAYE, NI, Pension and company heath care payments are all deducted from my wages before I see them allowing me to know how much is left to budget the month on.
IMHO if some of those on benefit are having difficulty paying their bills then council tax and rent should be deducted at source. As a employee my PAYE, NI, Pension and company heath care payments are all deducted from my wages before I see them allowing me to know how much is left to budget the month on. swindondad
  • Score: 19

7:08am Wed 25 Jun 14

Alex English says...

Since when has 'not having the money' been an excuse for not paying the tax you legally owe?
Since when has 'not having the money' been an excuse for not paying the tax you legally owe? Alex English
  • Score: 18

7:11am Wed 25 Jun 14

mrwoo says...

or they could perhaps get a job, lazy w@nkers!
or they could perhaps get a job, lazy w@nkers! mrwoo
  • Score: 15

7:11am Wed 25 Jun 14

Russell Holland says...

If a liability order has been made by the Court then an attachment of earnings or attachment of benefits order can be made and a set out amount is taken at source - this is preferable to using bailiffs because then additional fees are not incurred.

The point is though we want to avoid having to go to Court or using bailiffs,but we have to robust enforcement measures. So I again stress is anyone is in difficulty then they should contact the Council urgently to discuss their options.
If a liability order has been made by the Court then an attachment of earnings or attachment of benefits order can be made and a set out amount is taken at source - this is preferable to using bailiffs because then additional fees are not incurred. The point is though we want to avoid having to go to Court or using bailiffs,but we have to robust enforcement measures. So I again stress is anyone is in difficulty then they should contact the Council urgently to discuss their options. Russell Holland
  • Score: -6

7:15am Wed 25 Jun 14

Russell Holland says...

Many people on benefits work but are on low incomes. Many more would like to be able to work but cannot because of health issues, caring responsibilities or because they struggle to find a job.

Of the people who had a reduction in Council Tax Benefit (now Council tax support) the majority have been paying.

For anyone interested we are having a meeting this coming Friday at 4pm to discuss potential measures aimed at improving Council Tax collection while reducing the number of bailiffs.

People only get a bailiff visit once it has been to Court. People will receive reminder notices and notice of the Court hearing. It is vital to respond to those documents as early as possible.
Many people on benefits work but are on low incomes. Many more would like to be able to work but cannot because of health issues, caring responsibilities or because they struggle to find a job. Of the people who had a reduction in Council Tax Benefit (now Council tax support) the majority have been paying. For anyone interested we are having a meeting this coming Friday at 4pm to discuss potential measures aimed at improving Council Tax collection while reducing the number of bailiffs. People only get a bailiff visit once it has been to Court. People will receive reminder notices and notice of the Court hearing. It is vital to respond to those documents as early as possible. Russell Holland
  • Score: -7

8:58am Wed 25 Jun 14

Alex English says...

The point here, Mr Holland, is that everyone receives a certain monthly income once all the various benefits, credits, handouts and giveaways have been applied to them.

From that, they have a legal duty to pay council tax. Why is it that certain people seemingly are allowed more leeway than others? I once missed two council tax payments due to a council error, which they admitted, and was immediately threatened with a court hearing, despite having paid every penny of the ridiculously extortionate council tax since the day it was introduced.

So I'll ask again, why are certain people seemingly given more leeway than others? 'Not having the money' is not an excuse for not paying tax. If it were, nobody would pay any tax.
The point here, Mr Holland, is that everyone receives a certain monthly income once all the various benefits, credits, handouts and giveaways have been applied to them. From that, they have a legal duty to pay council tax. Why is it that certain people seemingly are allowed more leeway than others? I once missed two council tax payments due to a council error, which they admitted, and was immediately threatened with a court hearing, despite having paid every penny of the ridiculously extortionate council tax since the day it was introduced. So I'll ask again, why are certain people seemingly given more leeway than others? 'Not having the money' is not an excuse for not paying tax. If it were, nobody would pay any tax. Alex English
  • Score: 14

9:42am Wed 25 Jun 14

A.Baron-Cohen says...

The Law applies to us all regardless of sex, race, age, ability
If we start bending the Law for some minority(ies) then we are creating an Apartheid Society.
The Law applies to us all regardless of sex, race, age, ability If we start bending the Law for some minority(ies) then we are creating an Apartheid Society. A.Baron-Cohen
  • Score: 10

10:01am Wed 25 Jun 14

Ollie Dognacky says...

They (Swindon Borough Clownskool) keep telling us that Swindon is "bucking the trend"
👎-384
They (Swindon Borough Clownskool) keep telling us that Swindon is "bucking the trend" 👎-384 Ollie Dognacky
  • Score: -4

10:24am Wed 25 Jun 14

fuzzey says...

Not to worry just slap another 40 pounds on all your paying up council tax law abiding citizens for maybe collecting paper and card or plastics ?? Hopefully this will cover it?another problem solved .
Not to worry just slap another 40 pounds on all your paying up council tax law abiding citizens for maybe collecting paper and card or plastics ?? Hopefully this will cover it?another problem solved . fuzzey
  • Score: 5

10:54am Wed 25 Jun 14

Wiltshireman says...

@ Russell Holland

But the council, sorry Crapita, still send out the Bailiffs whether you can pay or not and wack up the charges. No doubt some one at the council gets a kick bacl from the #310 feets they charge. When you call the council to make an arrangement they tell you porky pies that the council cannot take the debt back ... bull excrement ...
@ Russell Holland But the council, sorry Crapita, still send out the Bailiffs whether you can pay or not and wack up the charges. No doubt some one at the council gets a kick bacl from the #310 feets they charge. When you call the council to make an arrangement they tell you porky pies that the council cannot take the debt back ... bull excrement ... Wiltshireman
  • Score: 4

11:23am Wed 25 Jun 14

trolley dolley says...

Mr Holland,

Nobody likes paying taxes, but they are a fact of life.

I pay my taxes and I am sure you do. If people choose not to pay because they see other priorities coming first then they must suffer the consequences.

I expect you as the Lead Member for Finance to ensure that all taxes are paid promptly with procedures in place to enforce them and no excuses accepted.

I pay my taxes promptly every month and I do so in the hope that you ensure others do the same.

So do the job you are elected to do with efficiency.
Mr Holland, Nobody likes paying taxes, but they are a fact of life. I pay my taxes and I am sure you do. If people choose not to pay because they see other priorities coming first then they must suffer the consequences. I expect you as the Lead Member for Finance to ensure that all taxes are paid promptly with procedures in place to enforce them and no excuses accepted. I pay my taxes promptly every month and I do so in the hope that you ensure others do the same. So do the job you are elected to do with efficiency. trolley dolley
  • Score: 15

12:49pm Wed 25 Jun 14

swindon_mini says...

From what I see the Government is trying to treat everyone like "Responsible Adults" when it comes to benefit payments, which on the whole is a good thing, however some reciepients dont act like "responsible adults". There are people who have faced NO consequences for their actions throughout life. These people will live their life as they see fit regardless of the rules, and let me tell you, refusing to pay Council Tax is a minor indiscretion on some of their records!
From what I see the Government is trying to treat everyone like "Responsible Adults" when it comes to benefit payments, which on the whole is a good thing, however some reciepients dont act like "responsible adults". There are people who have faced NO consequences for their actions throughout life. These people will live their life as they see fit regardless of the rules, and let me tell you, refusing to pay Council Tax is a minor indiscretion on some of their records! swindon_mini
  • Score: 7

12:51pm Wed 25 Jun 14

swindon_mini says...

trolley dolley wrote:
Mr Holland,

Nobody likes paying taxes, but they are a fact of life.

I pay my taxes and I am sure you do. If people choose not to pay because they see other priorities coming first then they must suffer the consequences.

I expect you as the Lead Member for Finance to ensure that all taxes are paid promptly with procedures in place to enforce them and no excuses accepted.

I pay my taxes promptly every month and I do so in the hope that you ensure others do the same.

So do the job you are elected to do with efficiency.
I do believe that there was more than one councillor included in outstanding debt figures, certainly in recent years:)
[quote][p][bold]trolley dolley[/bold] wrote: Mr Holland, Nobody likes paying taxes, but they are a fact of life. I pay my taxes and I am sure you do. If people choose not to pay because they see other priorities coming first then they must suffer the consequences. I expect you as the Lead Member for Finance to ensure that all taxes are paid promptly with procedures in place to enforce them and no excuses accepted. I pay my taxes promptly every month and I do so in the hope that you ensure others do the same. So do the job you are elected to do with efficiency.[/p][/quote]I do believe that there was more than one councillor included in outstanding debt figures, certainly in recent years:) swindon_mini
  • Score: 5

1:03pm Wed 25 Jun 14

Davey Gravey says...

It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money.
Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.
It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money. Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc. Davey Gravey
  • Score: 2

1:13pm Wed 25 Jun 14

swindon_mini says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money.
Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.
I agree, only problem is there are benefits and there are benefits, oh and there are also benefits. You have the people working on benefits, which I think is a disgrace in this country, that people working full time still need to go to the state for handouts. There are people that can't work and there are people that wont work. I certainly think those that wont work should have vouchers end of!
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money. Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.[/p][/quote]I agree, only problem is there are benefits and there are benefits, oh and there are also benefits. You have the people working on benefits, which I think is a disgrace in this country, that people working full time still need to go to the state for handouts. There are people that can't work and there are people that wont work. I certainly think those that wont work should have vouchers end of! swindon_mini
  • Score: 7

1:14pm Wed 25 Jun 14

swindon_mini says...

swindon_mini wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money.
Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.
I agree, only problem is there are benefits and there are benefits, oh and there are also benefits. You have the people working on benefits, which I think is a disgrace in this country, that people working full time still need to go to the state for handouts. There are people that can't work and there are people that wont work. I certainly think those that wont work should have vouchers end of!
Wont work includes those that turn up to an interview in a tracksuit and say "Nah Mate".
[quote][p][bold]swindon_mini[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money. Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.[/p][/quote]I agree, only problem is there are benefits and there are benefits, oh and there are also benefits. You have the people working on benefits, which I think is a disgrace in this country, that people working full time still need to go to the state for handouts. There are people that can't work and there are people that wont work. I certainly think those that wont work should have vouchers end of![/p][/quote]Wont work includes those that turn up to an interview in a tracksuit and say "Nah Mate". swindon_mini
  • Score: 9

1:53pm Wed 25 Jun 14

house on the hill says...

swindon_mini wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money.
Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.
I agree, only problem is there are benefits and there are benefits, oh and there are also benefits. You have the people working on benefits, which I think is a disgrace in this country, that people working full time still need to go to the state for handouts. There are people that can't work and there are people that wont work. I certainly think those that wont work should have vouchers end of!
Why not go further and say that those who wont work get nothing at all! Why should the rest of us work to pay for people who cant be bothered to take responsibility for their own lives and contribute anything to society apart from endless kids they cant afford. we are way too soft in this country and positively encourage laziness and "expectation".

And to Councillor Grant (and Mr Wickes), please define poor and vulnerable? I bet there would be dozens of different definitions. For me anyone who can afford to drink and/or smoke, have a mobile, sat tv, internet, designer clothes etc is not poor. We have way to high an expectation level in this country and generation of what we think we "deserve". And as others have said, why are some treated differently to others.

Something else to remember is that the council have just renewed Capita's contract to keep collecting council tax so if they aren't happy why did they keep them? And Capita don't care about people, only about collecting money and getting their bonuses.
[quote][p][bold]swindon_mini[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: It is time for food vouchers instead of cash then those in need can get the help they need and won't be able to say they cannot afford it.Those who are responsible and on benefits already budget correctly and don't waste their money. Cigarettes and alcohol are luxury items and should not be available to those on benefits. The same goes for Sky tv, pets, etc.[/p][/quote]I agree, only problem is there are benefits and there are benefits, oh and there are also benefits. You have the people working on benefits, which I think is a disgrace in this country, that people working full time still need to go to the state for handouts. There are people that can't work and there are people that wont work. I certainly think those that wont work should have vouchers end of![/p][/quote]Why not go further and say that those who wont work get nothing at all! Why should the rest of us work to pay for people who cant be bothered to take responsibility for their own lives and contribute anything to society apart from endless kids they cant afford. we are way too soft in this country and positively encourage laziness and "expectation". And to Councillor Grant (and Mr Wickes), please define poor and vulnerable? I bet there would be dozens of different definitions. For me anyone who can afford to drink and/or smoke, have a mobile, sat tv, internet, designer clothes etc is not poor. We have way to high an expectation level in this country and generation of what we think we "deserve". And as others have said, why are some treated differently to others. Something else to remember is that the council have just renewed Capita's contract to keep collecting council tax so if they aren't happy why did they keep them? And Capita don't care about people, only about collecting money and getting their bonuses. house on the hill
  • Score: 7

2:38pm Wed 25 Jun 14

trolley dolley says...

swindon_mini wrote:
trolley dolley wrote:
Mr Holland,

Nobody likes paying taxes, but they are a fact of life.

I pay my taxes and I am sure you do. If people choose not to pay because they see other priorities coming first then they must suffer the consequences.

I expect you as the Lead Member for Finance to ensure that all taxes are paid promptly with procedures in place to enforce them and no excuses accepted.

I pay my taxes promptly every month and I do so in the hope that you ensure others do the same.

So do the job you are elected to do with efficiency.
I do believe that there was more than one councillor included in outstanding debt figures, certainly in recent years:)
You are correct swindon_mini and they came from more than one political party. However I believe the problem was dealt with at the time it came to light.

All this has no bearing on the present discussion.

What we are talking about are people who CHOOSE not to pay their taxes and then are defended by some politicians as POOR and VULNERABLE.

They are neither, but they know that because of poor contracts and policies that are the responsibility of the Cabinet of SBC they stand a good chance of getting away with not paying.

Cllr Holland, toughen up a bit.
[quote][p][bold]swindon_mini[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]trolley dolley[/bold] wrote: Mr Holland, Nobody likes paying taxes, but they are a fact of life. I pay my taxes and I am sure you do. If people choose not to pay because they see other priorities coming first then they must suffer the consequences. I expect you as the Lead Member for Finance to ensure that all taxes are paid promptly with procedures in place to enforce them and no excuses accepted. I pay my taxes promptly every month and I do so in the hope that you ensure others do the same. So do the job you are elected to do with efficiency.[/p][/quote]I do believe that there was more than one councillor included in outstanding debt figures, certainly in recent years:)[/p][/quote]You are correct swindon_mini and they came from more than one political party. However I believe the problem was dealt with at the time it came to light. All this has no bearing on the present discussion. What we are talking about are people who CHOOSE not to pay their taxes and then are defended by some politicians as POOR and VULNERABLE. They are neither, but they know that because of poor contracts and policies that are the responsibility of the Cabinet of SBC they stand a good chance of getting away with not paying. Cllr Holland, toughen up a bit. trolley dolley
  • Score: 12

3:31pm Wed 25 Jun 14

Russell Holland says...

We have very good levels of collection and we will use liability orders and bailiffs where people do not pay.

But the point is a lot of people on low incomes may end up getting into further debt so if it is possible to find a way to enable them to catch up without going through the Court system (with all the additional costs) then this is better.

People have to pay the tax that is due but when people are in difficulties we can be flexible as appropriate.
We have very good levels of collection and we will use liability orders and bailiffs where people do not pay. But the point is a lot of people on low incomes may end up getting into further debt so if it is possible to find a way to enable them to catch up without going through the Court system (with all the additional costs) then this is better. People have to pay the tax that is due but when people are in difficulties we can be flexible as appropriate. Russell Holland
  • Score: -10

8:35pm Wed 25 Jun 14

Captain T says...

Reading this, if you look at it in simplistic terms, there was an increase in unpaid council tax of approx £600k which was largely put down to a cut in government support. This does not change the fact that approx £2.2m has not been collected from people who do not rely on council tax support. It is a very crude way of looking at it but for those who have not been affected by the government cuts, what action has been taken to recoup their outstanding debts?

Has the council ever considered going through the courts for an Attachment of Earnings Order(AEO) ? If people are working and you can use an AEO, then it is the individual's responsibility to balance their finances by making cuts elsewhere. I think people get aggrieved when some get away with paying council tax on account of not having the funds to do so, yet are still able to afford £50 a week on booze and fags. £2.2m would happily plug the gap in the leisure grant...
Reading this, if you look at it in simplistic terms, there was an increase in unpaid council tax of approx £600k which was largely put down to a cut in government support. This does not change the fact that approx £2.2m has not been collected from people who do not rely on council tax support. It is a very crude way of looking at it but for those who have not been affected by the government cuts, what action has been taken to recoup their outstanding debts? Has the council ever considered going through the courts for an Attachment of Earnings Order(AEO) ? If people are working and you can use an AEO, then it is the individual's responsibility to balance their finances by making cuts elsewhere. I think people get aggrieved when some get away with paying council tax on account of not having the funds to do so, yet are still able to afford £50 a week on booze and fags. £2.2m would happily plug the gap in the leisure grant... Captain T
  • Score: 4

11:36pm Thu 26 Jun 14

Russell Holland says...

The Council does use attachment of earnings orders and attachment of benefit orders.

This is not about letting people not pay Council tax it is about having a robust collection system that does not unduly penalise people who may be facing difficulties.

It's very easy to judge, but the reality is that people do face genuine difficulties and even where people need to make changes relentless criticism is not going to do much to help.
The Council does use attachment of earnings orders and attachment of benefit orders. This is not about letting people not pay Council tax it is about having a robust collection system that does not unduly penalise people who may be facing difficulties. It's very easy to judge, but the reality is that people do face genuine difficulties and even where people need to make changes relentless criticism is not going to do much to help. Russell Holland
  • Score: -2

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree