Council Tax Single Person Review

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Monday 7 October 2013 1.45pm
I received a letter this morning telling me that Capita are carrying out a review on behalf of Southwark Council to check entitlement to Single Person Discount on Council Tax.

It informs me that they will be "checking data from other sources, and reviewing details of credit applications made at your address."

I must return the form with 14 days of the letter (dated nearly a week ago) or lose the discount.

Has anyone else received such a letter? I don't object to the council making checks, but the tone and incredibly short deadline (and lack of envelope, so a need to find one and a stamp) borders on bullying and is clearly designed to trick as many as possible into excluding themselves.
Monday 7 October 2013 2.45pm
I had the same letter last year and I found its tone to be rude, bordering on threatening. I complained to the council for two months (repeatedly emailing them weekly to chase) at which point they finally replied confirming I'd need to give them my council tax number. By that point I couldn't be bothered to look that up so dropped it.
I hadn't opened the letter for about a month before I replied to it and the discount was not taken from me, but did find it quite irritating that the council are subcontracting out their enforcement, particuarly as I would have thought from looking at voting records (which I've also had to re-confirm this week) or by simply abiding by the terms of the discount in the first place - its clear when you apply for single occupancy rates that the onus is on the applicant to notify the council should their circumstances change.
Efficiency at its best.
Wednesday 9 October 2013 1.34pm
What or who are these other "sources" ?
Wednesday 9 October 2013 1.49pm
It's the tone of most local authority missives these days. Assume the resident is lying and work back from there.

The fact they use firms like Crapita to do their dirty work is just the cherry on the top of Southwark Council's toxic cake.
Wednesday 9 October 2013 2.14pm
AntBorough wrote:
What or who are these other "sources" ?

I believe that's mostly to leave things open for them. Main check I'm told is credit reference agency - to see if there is more than one person with credit applications at the address.

However I'm told if they don't believe you are entitled to the 25% discount they can demand to come and inspect the property for more than one toothbrush etc.
Wednesday 9 October 2013 2.27pm
the same crapita was at the heart of a huge high court case recently, as barnet residents took barnet council to court over outsourcing a lot of their services to.
Tuesday 15 October 2013 12.13pm
I have received it from Southwark too - I can't see anything on the letter saying that you have to fill it in otherwise you will not receive the discount. Just that they are reviewing and using the services of Capita (in Bromley) to do this.
-Be careful-
Im not going to fill it in - It doesn't say you have to - but worded to frighten you into signing it - meaning checks can be made 'any time' in the future.
Surely we have data protection on our side?
Very Naughty.

Our TMO has been asked if we want to pay 1 each for 'a department' in Southwark to carry out checks that we are the tenants - ie a way of finding out if its being sub-let - however it's very shady who this department is and what checks will be done and who is monitoring them - just 'a department'. It's probably the same thing. We turned it down.
Tuesday 15 October 2013 12.50pm
koykat wrote:
I can't see anything on the letter saying that you have to fill it in otherwise you will not receive the discount

Perhaps you received a different version of the letter? On the reverse it was explicit that "if you do not return this form within 14 days you may lose entitlement to the benefit".

I agree that the word may isn't a definite, but I didn't want to give them an opportunity to stop my discount and then have to fight to get it back for months, for the sake of a stamp.

However (and again it could be a different letter) I don't believe that by signing the letter I've consented to the checks. It was clear that the checks will be carried out regardless and the statement I signed was a very short one confirming my eligibility.
Tuesday 15 October 2013 1.58pm
ok
Yes my letter does say that - so I called the number on the front 03453022311, spoke to a lady there and asked - 'Am I signing to give permission for you to do a credit check and background check (2 different things) to be made at 'any' time in the future, OR am I signing to declare single occupancy, OR am I signing for both? Because the way this is worded you have combined two completely separate issues into one letter and ask for one signature - and in so doing forcing my hand, because I have no other choice'?
She agreed it was odd and asked her manager. The answer was 'this is a letter to declare single occupancy only - nothing to do with signing to agree a credit check at all' and went on to say that 'those checks can be made at any time anyway without permission and that it would be very unlikely that checks would be made'. To which I replied - 'then why does it say on the front at the top that 'We (Southwark) are using an external agency to assist us, which will include 'checking data from other sources' AND reviewing details of credit applications made at your address'. She said she wasn't sure - that I could choose to not sign that form and write a letter to declare single occupancy and an explanation why I don't want to sign the form and send both, but the discount could be taken away'.
So - I am still in the dark and unsure like everyone else. It sounds so cloak and dagger and Illegal.
I think they have combined 2 issues and by signing one you are agreeing to the other that ordinarily need separate permission to be made.
I don't know what to do now.

I've heard with these checks - They looks at things like - is your car registered at your address with the DVLA (no its at my parents as the insurance is cheaper), if not you cant be living there etc...then put 2 & 2 together and make 9 and then proceed to make your life a living hell.
Tuesday 15 October 2013 2.22pm
I agree, they can make the checks at any time - so they wouldn't have needed my consent.

I signed a statement confirming that I believe I meet the criteria for discount. It would be likely unfair, and I am meaning legally here rather than unjust, to hide or obfuscate consent to anything else.

My understanding of the checks is that they are mostly looking at 'credit applications'. If there are three different names at my address holding credit, then it could reasonably be assumed other people lived here.

As I detailed above this is all about consent as you don't have to have the discount.

Their most-robust check is to ask to visit the property. You can refuse, and they would most likely withdraw the discount.
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