Residents and landlords who fail to tell North Kesteven District Council about changes which affect their entitlement to Council Tax Support and discounts face increased penalties.
While seeking to ensure that those in greatest need receive appropriate help in meeting their Council Tax liability, the council has a duty to protect public funds from abuse and is committed to proactively preventing and reducing levels of fraud in all areas.
There are certain circumstances under which residents are eligible for a discount or exemption on their bill or support in helping to pay the charge – with a requirement for any change in circumstances or address to be notified within 21 days. Failure to do this can bring a £70 penalty.
Following changes in the way fraud is investigated and administered, most of this work has been conducted by the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions, but NKDC now wants to increase its vigilance and extend the areas in which it takes action to cover payments relating to Council Tax and Council Tax Support.
The issue will be considered by NKDC’s Executive Board tomorrow (Thursday) and again by the Full Council, seeking to introduce penalties for claimants and landlords.
Currently penalties are only applied during a periodic review into single person discount and not in other circumstances.
Now, (if approved) where information is not supplied within 21 days which is asked for or which affects entitlement to discount or exemption, a penalty can be imposed for failing to:
○ Notify the council on any matter which affects entitlement to a discount – such as another person living at an address where single person discount applies, resident student or certain medical conditions;
○ Notify that the house is no longer exempt from charges because it is unoccupied, undergoing repairs or the occupant is away for certain reasons.
○ Supply essential information for establishing a liability.
○ Where landlords are more than four weeks late in notifying a change in tenancy, they too will start to incur penalties.
For full detail of these and other matters relating to Council Tax discounts, exemptions and support, contact the council on 01529 414155 or see www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/
The investigations would be carried out by West Lindsey District Council working in partnership with NKDC, with penalties added to the Council Tax account.
Each case will be looked at on its own merit and discretion exercised in the application of any penalty, taking into account any mitigating circumstances, legitimate explanation for the delayed notification and whether it is a first offence.