County council tax amnesty

A council tax benefit form
A council tax benefit form
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Following a successful campaign in 2011, councils across East Sussex are joining forces to conduct reviews of how many people may be wrongly claiming a discount on their council tax. This will help keep council tax as low as possible for all council tax payers.

The partnership review will examine who is claiming the Single Person Discount (SPD), which entitles claimants to a 25 per cent reduction in their council tax, and alert those who are not entitled to it.

A similar review carried out in 2011 identified a 5.6 per cent reduction in the number of ineligible SPD claims. This led to an extra £1.7m in council tax payments and helped to protect services in the difficult financial climate.

The partnership comprises East Sussex County Council, Lewes District, Wealden District, Rother District, Hastings Borough and Eastbourne Borough councils.

Before it starts, a two-week amnesty will give people the chance to come forward without fear of penalty to declare they no longer live alone and have been wrongly claiming the Single Person Discount.

The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013 provide for a penalty of £70 to be imposed on someone who fails to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances.

The amnesty will run until Friday, August 16.

A series of reviews, to start during September, will continue over the next four years and examine around 83,000 taxpayers in East Sussex who claim the SPD.

For an average Band D property, those claiming the SPD pay around £400 less a year. The partnership also encourages residents who live alone and are not claiming SPD to contact their local authority.

The partnership said: “This review is aimed at protecting the public purse by tackling an area of council tax payments that is vulnerable to fraudulent claims. These claims cost councils thousands a year and ultimately affect services we can provide for residents. To find out more about the SPD or about SPD amnesty contact Wealden’s council tax team on 01323 443385 or email: counciltax@wealden.gov.uk”