Council tax reviews planned

Eastbourne Town Hall, Grove Road, after extensive external works. September 19th 2013 E38076P ENGSUS00120130919143359

Eastbourne Town Hall, Grove Road, after extensive external works. September 19th 2013 E38076P ENGSUS00120130919143359

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Councils across East Sussex are joining forces to conduct a series of reviews of how many people are wrongly claiming a discount on their council tax.

The reviews, which proved successful in 2011, 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 across East Sussex in 2011 identified a 5.6 per cent reduction in the number of ineligible SPD claims. This led to an additional £1.7m in council tax payments and helped to protect services in the difficult financial climate.

The partnership is made up of East Sussex County Council, Lewes District Council, Wealden District Council, Rother District Council, Hastings Borough Council and Eastbourne Borough Council.

Before the review starts, a two-week amnesty is planned to 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) provide for a collecting authority to impose a penalty of £70 on a person if they fail to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances. The amnesty will run until Friday, September 12, 2014.

A series of reviews, to start during September and continue over the next four years, will 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 is also encouraging residents who live alone and who may not be claiming the SPD to contact their local authority.

In a joint statement, the council partnership said, “This review is aimed at protecting the public purse by tackling an area of council tax that is vulnerable to fraudulent claims.”

For enquiries about the SPD or about the SPD amnesty, call 0845 300 6715 or email counciltax@eastbourne.gov.uk.