Councils across East Sussex, including Hastings Borough Council, will be conducting a series of reviews of how many people may be wrongly claiming a discount on their council tax.
The partnership review will examine people who are 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. Similar reviews carried out across East Sussex in the last three years identified a 7.3 per cent reduction in the number of ineligible SPD claims, and this led to an additional £2.1 million 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. The review will start during September and will examine around 83,000 taxpayers in East Sussex, including more than 16 000 from Hastings, who claim the SPD. For an average Band D property, those claiming the SPD pay around £400 less a year. Before the review starts, a two-week amnesty, running until September 12, 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 partnership is also encouraging residents who live alone and who may not be claiming the SPD to contact their local authority.
Cllr Peter Chowney, the council’s deputy leader, 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 of pounds a year and ultimately affect the services we can provide for our residents. The vast majority of SPD claimants are fully entitled to the 25 per cent discount however, there are some who are not. The amnesty will give those people the chance to come forward without sanction and we would encourage anyone who may be wrongly claiming to declare themselves straight away to avoid a potential fine. By working together, the council partnership in East Sussex can deliver joint efficiencies and deliver excellent savings.” For information ring 01424 451081 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.