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Council Payment


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One of my in-laws has got herself into a situation with the local Council.


Basically, she received a cheque about 6 months ago for £1000. She didnt know what it was for so phoned the council to check what payment was in respect of. She was told it was in relation to a Council Tax refund.


She has never registered for Council Tax as she still lives at home with her parents and hasn't ever been in receipt of any Council assistance!


Now, I told her to put it in the bank as it was a certainty that they would eventaully reslise their mistake and demand repayment. The Council as thought, have now contacted her to request repayment, however, she has used the money to buy a car and doesn't have the money available.


Where does she stand on the repayment request and what is the likely course of action by the Council?





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Where does she stand on the repayment request and what is the likely course of action by the Council?


Sooner or later she will have to pay it back and ultimately the council will most likely issue a claim for it.


Pity nothing was in writing. At the time of the phone call did she actually say that she didn't think this was a legitimate payment, only for them to insist that it was?


To buy time she should write (not phone) and explain all this, that she no longer has the money and make an offer to pay ( and only realistically what she can afford) it off over several months.

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As you have stated, when the cheque arrived, the person knew that this money wasn't hers, and even contacted the council to inform them of this, now that the council have noticed there mistake, the money to give them back has indeed been used to buy a car with, alas spent money knowing full well it wasn't there's to spend, why didnt she just return the money when it arrived to save this hassle now, temptation got the better of her, and now she faces finding £1000 to repay the council....

What are the opitions now, the money still needs repaying, unless someone knows of a flaw that means that it doesnt ? sounds as if she doesnt have the money to return in one go, so the best advice is to make contact with the said council and offer to repay the money in monthly installments.... Your thread indicates trying to find a flaw whether the council can indeed request there money back, and what actions there will take to recoup the money.....

Did your friend get in writing that the money was hers when it was 1st sent to her, i'm guessing she didnt... it will need repaying.....


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Agreed, she doesnt have a leg to stand on as far as I am concerned, I told her at the time, the 2 government bodies you dont mess with are HMRC and the Council...shame she didnt listen.


Nothing was in writing, she phoned the Council at the time the check came through to insist that she knew no reason why they would give her this money, only to be told by the Council again that she was entitled to it. She provided the name of the person she dealt with and the time and date she called, however, the Council (rightly in my opinion) are asking for it back.


At the end of the day, its the public purse!

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she phoned the Council at the time the check came through to insist that she knew no reason why they would give her this money, only to be told by the Council again that she was entitled to it
Just as I thought. Large organisations can never accept that they might have made a mistake. Even when you say 'Doesn't the mere fact that I'm querying whether I'm entitled to this money, warrant further investigation?' they will invariably insist not and almost treat you like an imbecile for questioning it.


She provided the name of the person she dealt with and the time and date she called,


In the first instance, I would quote these details and not make any mention of repayment just yet. They will have to investigate first.


That's not to say the money won't have to be re-paid, but it will give space for negociation further down the line and you never know they might reduce the amount or even write it off. (but don't hold your breath on that one)

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I think this would be addressed under The Council Tax Benefit (General) Regulations 1992. The main bit for your in-law is likely to be under Part IX. This discusses excess benefits and recovery.


The Council Tax Benefit (General) Regulations 1992


r 84


(1) Any excess benefit, except benefit to which paragraph (2) applies, shall be recoverable.


(2) ...this paragraph applies to excess benefit allowed in consequence of an official error, where the claimant or a person acting on his behalf or any other person to whom the excess benefit is allowed could not, at the time the benefit was allowed or upon the receipt of any notice relating to the allowance of that benefit, reasonably have been expected to realise that it was excess benefit.(emphasis added)


The Council Tax Benefit (General) Regulations 1992


r 88

In addition to the methods for recovery of excess benefit which are specified in regulation 87, any sum or part of a sum which is due from the person concerned and which is not paid within 21 days of his being notified of the amount that is due, shall be recoverable in a court of competent jurisdiction by the authority to which the excess benefit is due.


The emphasised bit pretty much encapsulates the "good faith" argument against recovery which would be important here. If your in-law has never payed Council tax in the first place then she is scuppered on that aspect. I think that has already been well established in the thread but this might be some of the legal stuff they throw at you.


Your Council may have some "plain English" version of their procedures but the regulation appears to allow your in-law 21 days from notification to pay before being taken to court. Given her initial actions of contacting the Council to make them aware, combined with the length of time, they might get a more sympathetic reaction. Some form of repayment schedule seems the most likely.


It would be better to be prepared and get your in-law to work out in detail the most practical repayment schedule they can. If they are given the opportunity to make regular payments, it is better to know in advance what they can offer rather than try and work it out during any negotiations. It also reinforces the fact they are genuinely willing to pay and have considered it on a practical level.

What the law 'is' and what I think the law 'is' often differ. Always do your own research and take legal advice!

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