EAST Devon District Council is carrying out checks to make sure that residents who currently receive a Council Tax reduction are still entitled to it.
Council Tax payers who receive a 25 per cent discount on their bill as single occupancy residents will be reviewed to make sure the reductions are correct.
The checks, using sophisticated data-matching technology, form part of the council’s measures to prevent and detect fraud and protect the public purse.
Over the next couple of months the council will check around 3,000 households to see if the person is genuinely living alone, by cross-referencing with other sources of information about their household such as, but not limited to, the electoral-roll registers and financial sector information.
The review process will be carried out between August and November 2014 during which time, any persons whose claim for single person discount is under question will be contacted via letter and / or telephone as part of the review process.
Anyone failing to respond to requests for further information in relation to their claim will have the claim withdrawn from the beginning of the current financial year or from the date the discount was applied if within the current financial year. If, during the review process, checks indicate that another adult is living at the address, the discount will be withdrawn.
Councillor David Cox, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “Single person discount is an entitlement that the council is keen to ensure is being claimed by council taxpayers who are genuinely entitled. However, council taxpayers who claim the discount improperly place an unnecessary burden on the very real needs of some residents.
“This exercise is therefore part of an ongoing review to validate legitimate single person discount claims and identify and remove those who are not”.
To begin with the council will use three agencies – Capacity Grid, Datatank and Northgate – to review 3,000 of the 20,000 households currently claiming the single occupancy rate.
The council will be contacting all those believed to be claiming incorrectly. In the meantime, anyone who is claiming the discount and whose circumstances have changed is urged to contact the council immediately by telephoning 01395 517446.
“The longer you leave it, the larger your backdated bill will be, so it makes sense to tell us as soon as possible,” added Councillor Cox.
“Even if you were living alone when you received your bill for the year, if another adult is living with you now, we will need to re-calculate the amount you need to pay.
“People genuinely claiming a reduction have nothing to worry about, but anyone found to be deliberately misleading us could face a fine of up to £70 as well as having to repay the discount”.