Checks on single person households to ensure people are paying the correct council tax
People claiming Single Person Discount on their council tax in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse will shortly be asked to confirm whether they are still the only adult living in their property and therefore entitled to continue to receive the reduction. Incorrectly claiming this discount can be considered council tax fraud.
More than 35,500 households across the two districts currently claim to be occupied by a single person and are receiving the 25 per cent discount. To ensure everyone is paying the correct rate of council tax South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will send letters to the registered council tax-payer at many of these properties, requiring them to confirm the current occupancy.
People will have 21 days to respond by completing an online form or, if they don’t have access to the internet, by returning an optional paper reply. Anyone who fails to respond in time risks losing their entitlement to the discount.
The councils regularly carry out checks to ensure that only those who are genuinely entitled to the discount receive it. The checks will be carried out on the councils’ behalf by Capita Local Government Services. They will work with Experian, the credit reference agency, and will also use the Government’s National Fraud Initiative data-matching technology to identify where people are possibly claiming a discount on their council tax to which they are not entitled.
Anyone who claims the discount but has others living with them who are aged 18 or over who are not already disregarded for council tax purposes, such as students or carers, could be committing council tax fraud and could face the serious risk of prosecution. This could result in them receiving a fine, a criminal record or potentially more serious consequences if the fine is then not paid. They will also face the prospect of having additional bills when they are required to pay back all the discount that they wrongly received.
Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We undertake a pro-active approach to ensure that the correct council tax is paid by all and have procedures in place for reviewing single person discount entitlement. So, if you receive a letter please respond immediately and honestly, otherwise you could risk losing your entitlement or potentially face prosecution for a false claim. The discount is there to support adults genuinely meeting the single occupancy criteria.”
“If you receive a letter about your Single Person Discount, please read it through very carefully and then respond as quickly as possible.”
Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Residents on a low income or who claim benefits may be eligible for Council Tax reduction. Bills can be reduced by up to 100%. So, I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be entitled to financial support to visit our website”
If anyone feels their records may need updating now, they can also contact the councils via:
- South Oxfordshire – firstname.lastname@example.org / 0345 302 2313
- Vale of White Horse – email@example.com / 0345 302 2315
If you suspect that someone you know is illegally claiming Single Person Discount, or potentially committing any other fraud on their council tax please call the confidential 24 hour fraud hotline 01235 422483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are struggling to pay your council tax please visit southoxon.gov.uk/counciltax or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/counciltax to find out about the support available or call 0345 302 2313 (South) or 0345 302 2315 (Vale).
Note to Editors
- The 25 per cent single person discount figure is set nationally by the Government and is not related to household income.
- The number of households claiming a single person discount in South Oxfordshire and the Vale represents around 29 per cent of the total number of households respectively.
- All council tax demands, and discount application forms, carry a message about the requirement to immediately inform the council about any changes which affect entitlement to a discount.
- Those that do not come forward and are subsequently found to be receiving a discount to which they are not entitled, may face a financial penalty and/or prosecution under the Fraud Act 2006.
- Every year, an estimated £90 million worth of Single Person Discount is fraudulently claimed across the UK, reducing the money available to invest in important local services.