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ChasingMyTail

Incapacity Benefit and Council Tax - £300+ in arrears, how did this happen??

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Sorry if I've posted in the wrong section but this was the closest one to what my problem is.

 

My partner has been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit [Higher Rate], Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for over 6 years without a break in his claim. About 3 years ago there was an accidental over payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit and the amount was recovered in full from his Incapacity Benefit in accordance with the time schedule given by the benefit office

 

However now, he's been presented with a court summons and cost of £300+ for unpaid Council Tax. Not quite sure how this has happened because he's *always* had the full amount of Council Tax paid for in the past and there has not been a change in his circumstances that would cancel out any of his benefit - likewise him being told that a change to the decision had been made at any point in time.

 

I have only been with my partner a fairly short period of time so I wasn't present at the time the over-payment/repayment issue occured... and have only just inherited this problem to resolve >_

 

As far as I can tell, there *may* have been a bit of a whoopsie on their part relating to the amount of CTB he was getting being about £3-4 shorter a week than it should be for a period of time.... but not having a rate to compare it to for previous timeframes I cannot say for certain if this is an accurate opinion or not.

 

So we're in a bit of a mess at the moment... we have no way of miraculously finding that sort of money to pay off the alleged arrears and are equally unsure of how to go about finding what's went on. It's basically them telling us we owe them, and us not really having a leg to stand on because at no point was we told there was a problem with my partners claim or any changes to it.

 

Are people on Incapacity Benefit supposed to pay any contribution towards their Council Tax if they are in receipt of Council Tax Benefit or not? And who do we approach that will be unbiased in trying to resolve this problem for us?

 

Any information would be greatly received.

 

~ ChasingMyTail xx

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Good luck in trying to get any headway with this one. I have tried and am in a current repayment plan but they still took me to court and now i have an impending conviction because of it!! All because 1 department refused to communicate with the other. fingers crossed i hope you make headway xx


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Thanks lilyx0xmunster - I just hope we get somewhere with this because my partner's already done the repayment thing and been compliant and above board the whole time with everything, then this insanity comes out of nowhere... gotta find some answers somewhere to unravel this mystery!

 

And oh my god, that's terrible! I didn't think you could get taken to court and convicted if you was complying with them - surely that's got to be wrong?? Stand your ground pet and hopefully the truth will prevail *hugs*

 

~ ChasingMyTail xx

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If the council have made the mistake, then ther is no wasy they can take you to court and may have to write off the mistake if it is an official mistake, i.e. due to their own negligence. This is written up in the housing regulations. See Part 13 99 - 100 at The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006

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Thanks Surfer01 :) That seems a little more encouraging... I'll have a read through that right now. Might be onto the right track with this *fingers crossed*

 

~ ChasingMyTail xx

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Might have to read through the whole document... the info was great, however he already paid back the overpayment a considerable time ago without question as he thought it probably was right. The info i'm looking for relates to how they've calculated this figure of £300+ in arrears if he already repaid the money they said he owed, likewise if he should have been paying anything towards his Council Tax full stop if he was receiving benefit for it. As far as I can see, people on Incapacity Benefit should have the whole of their CT paid for if they're claiming for it. So I am truly stumped over what to do. Maybe I should write and ask why, how, when and where they've come up with this figure? Do you think that would work??

 

~ ChasingMyTail xx

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it is definitely worth asking where and when they get this figure allegedly that you owe...i would certainly write and ask how and why? they should release the information if they are claiming that is it is an overpayment..or that you should have been paying ct for a period

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Feeling a little bit more encouraged over what I should be doing... will try writing something tonight and see where that gets me. Thanks debt4get for thinking it's a go if I write to them - I was feeling a bit paranoid they'd just laugh in our faces or ignore the letter entirely, but you're right, they owe us an explanation as opposed to just telling my partner he owes them money. Can't hurt any can it?

 

Will post back once I've written something to give the jist of what was said... and update if anything becomes more clear in the next week or so. I hope so, because this is really stressing me out.

 

~ ChasingMyTail xx

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Incapacity benefit is not a passported benefit to housing benefit or council tax benefit, so though he may be eligible for some benefit, he may not be eligible for full housing benefit/council tax benefit. Some people on IB are not entitled at all.

 

Even if the benefit section have made an error, the council can and will be able to take him to court for outstanding council tax because council tax and council tax benefit are two seperate things. This is an error of judgement that many people make.

 

If the benefit was paid directly to the council rather than to your other half, the court will take this into account as mitigating circumstances and they will usually in these circumstances allow time to pay, but this will not stop a liability order from being granted.

 

However he should not have got a summons in the first place if Council have not already sent him a letter about it. They must send out two reminders before issuing a summons.

 

What he needs to do is SAR the benefit section of his council to see the amount of benefit they have been paying and how it has been calculated, then compare it to his council tax bill to see how much of it his benefit covered.


My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the input ErikaPNP :)

 

My partner has always had his Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit paid directly to the council/landlord respectively with the impression that it would prevent any mistakes, missed payments or other miscelleneous things that could go wrong if left to his own devices. He also was one of the lucky ones to have the full amount of benefit awarded to him which covered the entirity of his Council Tax payments. So I really am stumped why he's been presented with a bill now.

 

I'm hoping that maybe you'd be able to give your opinion on the following [providing you're not busy that is :)]

 

If he was entitled to the full amount but wasn't *actually* paid it, how is it that he's the one at fault? Also, if the payments were going to the right place and were calculated correctly, surely they're at fault? Also if the payments were out of his hands at all times, then how is he liable for wrong payments?

 

In addition to this, how are Council Tax and Council Tax Benefit classed as two seperate things if it's called Council Tax Benefit and pays for Council Tax?? :confused:

 

Sorry for being thick here... I've never had to deal with a problem like this before and well, I'm a bit 'green' when it comes to law. All of this is frankly baffling :( So any info would really help me get things a little clearer in my mind :)

 

~ ChasingMyTail xx

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It's like anything else. Let me give an example:

 

Let's say you have a tenancy agreement to pay rent in exchange for a property, and you are entitled to benefit. If the rent doesn't get paid because there is an issue with the benefits which is entirely the fault of the benefit processors, the landlord still has a right to commence proceedings against the tenant up until eviction if necessery. The tenant has a liability to the landlord to ensure the rent is paid, but the housing benefit section does not have a liability to the landlord. It works the same with council tax.

 

His responsibility is to ensure that his council tax is paid, and if benefits aren't paying it, to come to an agreement with the council tax department until the benefits department have sorted it out.

 

That's why I suggested SAR to the council benefit section - to establish what his benefit entitlement was, whether it has actually been paid and what if anything at all he actually owes. If the SAR comes back showing that it has been paid to the council tax department (all of it) then there is no liability - it's lost in the council tax system and it's up to them to sort it out.

 

If it comes back showing that it hasn't been paid, but ought to have been, he needs to get in touch with the benefit department (and make a strong complaint in the process) to get it paid ASAP. If it shows that he was only entitled to some council tax benefit he will be liable for any shortfall.

 

If he hasn't got his correct entitlement and the benefit department are at fault then he should most definately take it up with them as a serious complaint, and possibly also seek redress for maladministration.

 

However this does not discharge his liability for council tax, in the same way that it would not discharge his liability for rent if it was a landlord who was issuing a summons for non payment of rent. They are two seperate areas.

 

If you have recently moved into the property then this change of circumstance is likely what has caused the shortfall in benefit, where he always had it paid in full before.


My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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