Low income but no Council Tax relief??

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Normally I am able to solve my own problems but one has arisen that has me completely foxed.

It is a fact that when you make a claim for Pension Credit and you are awarded it, you are entitled to 100% Council Tax Relief. In all of the advice documents it makes it quite clear that you do not need to make a separate claim to the council.

OK so fast forward. Pension Credit claim is closed 18 months later under Reg 9 (failure to submit).

Income remains the same as it was when PC award made (all fixed pensions) so the assumption was that CT benefit should continue as before (100%)  Then another claim for PC is made 15 months after the first one was closed. This is successful again.

During that period from when the 1st PC award was closed and when the 2nd one was awarded (once again on the same level of income) should a formal claim for CT benefit have been lodged with the council? If so who was responsible for advising me of this? The council I imagine.

As you know I have a large'ish debt due to the DLA/PIP situation - I was paid DLA , incorrectly, for 4 weeks longer than I should through no fault of mine.

Now the council not only want the Council Tax benefit back that they gave me for those 4 weeks, but also what they gave me in error for the 15 months in between the two PC periods. 

I am arguing and able to prove that our income for that 15 month period was such that it would have supported a 100% CT benefit award if a PC claim had been made. 

Any ideas anybody please? I am just about fed up with all of this. I've had 20 odd years of hell from the DWP, and now the council want to get in on the act!

1 like, 16 replies

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16 Replies

  • Posted

    Oh my goodness Les,  you do seem to go through it with one thing and six others and you really don't need all this stress, especially as none of it is your fault.

    I'm not able to offer any advice really, but I'm sure someone will.  I just wanted to say sorry that you are having to endure all of this rubbish.

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    • Posted

      Tell me about it.

      I had hoped that after giving up the chance of moving from DLA to PIP the powers that be would leave me alone to enjoy what years I have left.

      But no, this is nothing more than the continuation of the hassle and aggravation that has befallen me for the past 21 years when I tangle with the DWP/Council.

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    • Posted

      Without a word of a lie, I have over 16 A4 folders full of DWP & council paperwork going back over the last 21 years. On my bookshelf they occupy two full shelves each one being 1 metre wide - that is 2 metres of files stacked side by side!!!

      Dealings with HMRC going back 52 years accounts for 1 x A4 folder!!!!

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  • Posted

    What do Citizens Advice say about this?
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    • Posted

      No idea to be honest. I have found that in the past that the 'advisors' there are less able than I am!!

      Besides which, (and I only did this once), you have to queue up from 8am in the hope that you would be allowed in at 9.30am. Sometimes its the first 9 or 10 and at other times it can be only the first 5.

      I once queued for nearly 90minutes only to be told to come back the next day - I was number 6, the first 5 were invited in. I did go back at 7.30am and managed to get through the door. When in there they only wanted details of who I was and what I wanted. 20minutes later I was back outside on my way home having to await a phone call to give me the time and date I should return to see somone.

      I gave up and went my own way - dealing with the submission of my appeal grounds without help.

       

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  • Posted

    Oh Dear Les

    The problem is the Council/DWP make it quite clear that it is the claimant's responsibility to inform them of a change in circumstances. When your PC claim was closed down that would most certainly have counted as a change in circumstances and thus you are seen to have breached the compliance for Council Tax Benefit. It would be helpful if the different benefit departments kept each other informed but that doesn’t happen so it is down to the claimant.

    Trying to blame the Council will only wind them up so I would strongly advise against that. Your best bet is to write to the Council and concede you’re error but you believe you had an underlying entitlement to the benefit.

    You could also provide evidence of your mental health problems and state that you were simply unaware of the complex rules.

    Provide all the financial evidence to prove you would have qualified for CTB and ask for a discretionary decision to wipe out the notional amount you currently owe. I would also think about contacting your councilor and/or MP.

    FYI that’s what I did once and managed to get a £1,000 ‘debt’ wiped.

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    • Posted

      Thanks Anthony. It would only have needed a small paragraph in the letter telling me that the PC award had been closed down and that - I should now contact my local authority if a claim for Council Tax Benefit is thought to be relevant'.

      Or maybe a letter from the council 'noting that my award had ceased and that if I wanted to continue getting help I should contact them on ***************.'

      Yes I have all of the evidence - it was used for the 2nd PC claim as there were no material changes from when the 1st award was in place to when the 2nd application was made.

      Obviously I will have to 'beg their forgiveness' if I want them to look kindly on me even though it rankles me to do so.

      Honestly, being told by the DWP that there was no need to contact the council to claim CT benefit when claiming PC, I just assumed that as there were no changes to income or personal circumstances in the intervening period, the CT benefit should continue. Obviously if there had been changes I would have been in touch with them. 

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  • Posted

    Actually Les in my mother's case(which I look after) your 1st sentence isn't always the case. my mother's council state they will pay majority of the due council tax. if in receipt of PC.

    which she is.that means she has to find a huge £20 a year council tax.

    every year she gets through the post a small postage paid envelope where you tick the box for "no change of circumstances". 2years ago similar thing happened what happened to you. over 4days. my fault. so I'm on phone to council tax Dept. 3/4 of an hour. not free mins. anyway what I'm saying is folk think it fact 100% paid. some parts it isn't. that small £20 could've got her into such trouble. have you tried ringing or email your council offices and be put through to the tax Dept. hope it some help. take care.

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    • Posted

      I don't know if some council's are different. But ours is one that says that if someone is in receipt of Guaranteed Pension Credit AND over the age of retirement, then 100% of the Council Tax is not due. The PC claim was a joint one - I was under 65 but over 60 and my wife who is a bit older than I am was over 65 - if that made any difference.

      Yes I have been in touch with the council and was informed that as no formal claim covering that 15 month period had been made, it was determined that full Council Tax was due and payable (£1886.34) for that period. She went further to tell me that to put in a claim now - I am talking about 2010/11 would not be accepted as it is out of time.

      In other words send us a cheque or the bailiffs are in!!

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    • Posted

      I know this isn't much help Les but don't they let you pay it off gradually any more?  They used to.  x

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    • Posted

      No idea, I haven't got that far. At the moment I am trying to have the debt written off on the basis that IF a claim had been made as they have suggested, then there would have been no Council Tax liability to pay for that period.

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  • Posted

    You started with

    It is a fact that when you make a claim for Pension Credit and you are awarded it, you are entitled to 100% Council Tax Relief. 

    .........

    Income remains the same as it was when PC award made (all fixed pensions) so the assumption was that CT benefit should continue as before (100%)

    The first part makes sense as you knew your award of Pension Credit entitled you to 100% Council Tax Relief.  Then you knew you'd lost you Pension Credit but you didn't know that you'd lost your automatic entitlement to 100% Council Tax Relief?  

    I just assumed that as there were no changes to income or personal circumstances in the intervening period, the CT benefit should continue. Obviously if there had been changes I would have been in touch with them. 

    Your income did change when you lost your Pension Credit - that is the change.  That's when you should have been in touch with them.  You say your other income and personal circumstances remained the same and assumed that CT benefit should continue as before but how were Council Tax staff supposed to know that?  This doesn't ring true to me I'm afraid.  You know the rules around benefits, you say you are more able than CAB advisors so you must know how important it is to keep the Council informed of every change but you didn't on this occasion.

    Did you get a Council Tax bill during the 15 months between your first Pension Credit claim ending and your next claim starting?  Did this show a 100% deduction and if so what reason did it give?  If it showed a deduction due to Pension Credit then that would have been another reason to contact the Council to correct them.

    I actually hope you can get this sorted but going in blaming the Council or the way the letters are written isn't a good way to go about it.  You made a mistake in not informing them at the time and making a new claim at the time without Pension Credit and you should take that on the chin, be very appologetic and hope that they have rules that allow them to take your evidence so late and award the benefit you believe you were entitled to.  If not, agree a payment plan and start paying it off.  Leaving it to the Bailiffs will only increase the debt further.

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    • Posted

      A lot of what I know now has only come about after I took control of my own affairs without any help or advice from anyone. It was read, read, read.

      With hindsight, yes I know what I should have done, but at the time (remembering that it was only in 2011 that I was able to get to grips with the DWP. From 2004 to 2011 I was incapacitated both mentally and physically). My DLA award that I had from 1995 was closed down in 2004 for failing to deal with the renewal (it took until 2011 before I put in a new claim and as such didn't get it between 2004 - 2011) Likewise with the IIDB claim, that too was stopped because no appeal was lodged against a decision on re-assessment to refuse me it.

      I have mentioned earlier about the IIB situation. I was re-awarded it in 2011 and had an any time revision back to 2004. That revision resulted in the 2004 decision being reversed but because no appeal was lodged at the time they could not pay me the £20,000+ for the period 2004 - 2011.

      Likewise with the PC claim, the reason that it was forcibly closed down by the DWP was because I wasn't in a fit state to send them information/evidence. within 30 days. When I found out what had happened and was able to do something about it, I made a new claim 15 months later.

      To put it bluntly from 2004 to 2011 all of the post was stored unopened in most cases by my wife and consequently everything benefit wise fell apart. My wife was ignorant of anything that came in brown envelopes and put them to one side for me when I would become better.

      During that 7 year period my wife and I lived on savings, cashed insurance policies and family handouts. This left us by 2011 pretty broke.

      Since 2011 I have been attacking each benefit one by one trying to get them all re-instated. We managed it eventually, only to come up against PIP late last year which was the end of the road for me - I was worn out.

       

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    • Posted

      Umm, I can see your point, but using a forum like this gives me anonymity.

      I am not one for airing my dirty washing in public.

      Sending all of that info would to my mind make me appear to be some sort of sado and lacking any sort of intelligence.

      I appreciate your suggestion but I don't want anyone that knows me to hear that I have been that poorly. No one, not even the DWP knows that I have in the past been sectioned in a secure unit not just for my own safety but mainly for the safety of others. Leading up to that, I attempted to burn down a house with me inside it, have a police record for unprovoked violence towards anyone that appears to me to be threatening.

      I had a sort of a dream one night and in it I tried to kill my wife who was in bed next to me. At my normal daily attendance that morning, I recounted the 'dream' and my fear. That was when I was whisked away in a taxi with my CPN to the unit.

      All of those instances and many more were part of the PTSD problem.

       

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