Council Challenged Over Their Support to Residents Struggling to Pay Council Tax
The Leader of the Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party has challenged Newcastle City Council over the support offered to people who are struggling to pay council tax. In a letter to Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Jason Smith (pictured) said:
“People who slip behind by as little as one payment can find themselves liable to pay the whole annual council tax bill, which is impossible for most people to pay. I understand it does not take long for such households to be taken to court and referred to bailiffs, who insist that a consent order is signed for them to enter the person’s home and seize property before they will negotiate any deal to pay by instalments. This is a slippery slope that can lead to serious pressure being applied to families in difficulty.
“I was disgusted to hear recently that one person was told the council tax bill should be regarded as a higher priority than feeding the children. The council should not have to write off many thousands of pounds of unpaid council tax but it is not acceptable for people who fall behind with a single council tax payment to be treated like criminals.
“If Coun Forbes and the Labour administration of Newcastle City Council are concerned about the welfare of Newcastle residents, it needs to look at the way it deals with families that fall on hard times. It could be regarded as hypocritical for the council to offer advice and support to some while getting their bailiffs to turn the screws on others.”
The Leader of Council was given an opportunity to respond to Jason’s letter. He claimed the council does not play hardball with people who fall behind with their payments. Jason added: “Councilllor Forbes has clearly never been in a position where he cannot afford to pay his council tax and I am disappointed that he chose to dismiss the concerns we have raised.”