Cotswold District Council apologises over tax dispute with resident

  • Published
Cotswold District CouncilImage source, Google
Image caption,
The ombudsman said it was "particularly disappointed" with Cotswold District Council's response to the report

A council has "apologised unreservedly" over its handling of a man's plea for help in paying tax during the pandemic.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said Cotswold District Council showed "repeated unacceptable problems with communication".

The man had requested help with council tax payments due the impact of Covid but continued to receive reminders from the authority, causing him distress.

Councillor Mike Evemy said: "We have learnt from it to improve in future."

The ombudsman's investigation found the council did not give the man clear information about when the payment plan would end or that he would face recovery action, irrespective of keeping to payments.

'Significant disadvantage'

It also said the council did not clearly explain its debt recovery policy and acted contrary to the information it provided in that it would stop further reminders.

"People falling on hard times in the Cotswolds are being placed at a significant disadvantage by the council not making them aware of its council tax discretionary relief scheme, and not prompting them to apply when they say they need help," said the ombudsman's Michael King.

When the man asked the council to write off his debt, he was told he did not have exceptional circumstances but the council did not provide any reasons for its decision, the report found.

Distress and uncertainty

Cotswold District Council was told it should apologise to the man, pay him £300 for his distress and reconsider his request to write off his arrears.

Finance cabinet member Mr Evemy said the council apologised for any distress and uncertainty caused.

"We always aim to be understanding and support our residents sympathetically. Unfortunately, in this situation we didn't get that right," he said.

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to:

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.