A SINGLE mum had the shock of her life when she woke up and looked at her bank account to find that £460 had been withdrawn for her council tax bill. 

Emily Cooper, who is on Universal Credit, said she normally pays around £50 a month using a direct debit because she receives council tax support. The new sum was taken out of her account on November 22.

The Stratton woman, 25, was confused and horrified and says that when she phoned Swindon Borough Council, she was told she would have to pay monthly instalments until March totalling more than £2,000. 

But the council claims her income has changed since 2019 so she had received more than £2,000 in council tax support that she was not entitled to. Emily refutes this.

The mum to a three-year-old girl said: “I really wasn’t expecting that money to come out of my account. 

“My earnings and my hours of work have not changed. Universal Credit is still paying my rent so I don’t understand how it’s happening.

“I live in a two-bedroom flat so it’s a massive shock to be paying this sum and I’ve been crying every night. 

“They’ve given me the bill right near Christmas.

“My daughter keeps saying to me 'are you still stressed mummy?'

“It doesn’t make any sense and I’ve rung so many times to find out what’s going on.

“For £460 to come out of my account seemingly randomly, it’s not left me with anything to pay for other bills like gas and electricity. I’m worried I’m not going to be able to pay those bills because I hadn’t planned for this.”

She says she only received a letter informing her of the changes last Friday, although the council argues it notified her in October.

After trying to clarify her situation with the council, Emily received a letter from the benefits service on November 26 apologising for an underpayment of £645.27.

They said they had not heard from the Department for Work and Pensions about her Universal Credit awards. 

The email from the council benefits office explained that a hypothetical weekly income of £999.99 had been applied to her account as a result.

It reads: “A high notional weekly income of £999.99 was applied for the period 11.8.19–10.8.21 as we had not received notifications from the DWP of your UC awards covering this period.

“Your claim has been amended yesterday, the £999.99 income has been removed and your UC and earnings have been applied as per the UC documents you kindly provided on 29.9.21, creating an underpayment of £645.27 that will be credited to your council tax account. 

“Please accept our apologies for the delay in updating your claim.”

A council spokesman told the Adver: “There has been a recalculation of Ms Cooper’s council tax support following a review of her claim.

“Unfortunately, her income has been updated from 2019 and this has created a large overpayment. 

“Ms Cooper is appealing this and this is currently being reviewed. 

“A revised bill was issued in October to advise of the instalments, which increased due to the large clawback of support.

“We will look at revising the instalments to allow her a longer period to repay this amount, if it is found to be due.”

Emily received another letter yesterday with her updated bill. Instead of four instalments, she is now being asked to pay two £519 instalments in December and January to make up the £1,038 remaining.