One of our supporters, John, has shared his personal experience fighting against the unfair Council Tax system in Northumberland. He supports Fairer Share because he agrees that we need one simple, fairer tax system.


Dear Fairer Share,

My complaint is not just about the level of Council Tax bills, but also about the way councils arbitrarily make decisions and enforce them, employing automated processes that end up with debt collectors. 

My first experience of Council Tax was when my late aunt—who was elderly and suffering from dementia—had her Council Tax discount benefit wrongly cut off. 

Unfortunately, similar methods were also employed on me, despite being a pensioner on an income level that should qualify me for a Council Tax discount and housing benefits. I had helped my aunt buy her house on the basis that it would come to me after her death. When she died, it took us 7 months to sort out her affairs and carry out essential work to the house, so it could be brought up to the required standards and be lived in safely.

The council however, acted immediately to disqualify my Council Tax discount and housing benefits from the date the property title was passed to me. Its capital value was used to disqualify my entitlement even though it was a liability not an asset. The council made me pay the full Council Tax on the inherited house as well as the rented property I was previously staying in nearby. I was also made to repay “overpaid” housing benefits. The council and the Valuation Office both rejected my argument that paying two sets of Council Tax, plus paying back housing benefit constituted severe hardship. 

My income as a single pensioner was reduced to far below the sum the government specified for pensioners to live on, ironically the same formula used to determine benefits in the first place. At the same time as they refused to alleviate the hardship they had caused, the council were giving out exemptions to private landlords for carrying out the same kind of essential repairs that I had to.

I was not only concerned about the money and hardship, but also the way the council behaved throughout. 

I was pleased to come across your campaign as the current system needs to be simplified. I do wonder how many there are out there paying too much and not having fair assessments or appeals, especially with millions of homes going into debt since the start of the pandemic. There seems to be major systemic failures


John L


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