to feel insulted by this letter from the council and to go and "speak" to them about it?

(190 Posts)
mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 07:56:03

OK Ladies, my first AIBU, but I have been stewing about this and want your wisdom please before I make an idiot of myself.
Background... I live in the UK with DS but DH lives and works abroad and has done for years. He is non resident for tax purposes and comes here every few weeks for a day or two. I am the sole owner of my home. Therefore I claim council tax allowance for a single person. I recently moved house and notified the council. On Sat I received a letter from them querying why if I am living singly am I paying council tax from a joint account. (never been queried at the old house). Then what got me going was the following questions:

1) What is your relationship to the joint bank account holder?
2) If this is a spouse are you still in a relationship and if not why do you continue to use a joint bank account?
3)Where does the joint bank account holder live?

Now I know that benefit fraud is common and that as a tax payer I should be grateful that the council are trying to stop people cheating the system, but I just found the whole tone insulting - especially ? 2. None of their business. It also asks me to reply straight away. If I wanted to cheat I could easily have paid from my personal account and no problems.

So AIBU. Should I just meekly send a reply answering all their questions or do I politely let them know that their letter could be "improved"...

TIA.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Mon 01-Apr-13 10:31:00

Yabu. And what a sad relationship where you both prefer tax dodging to each other's company.....

catlady1 Mon 01-Apr-13 10:34:41

Someone claiming the single person council tax allowance (if they're genuinely living alone) should not be subjected to anything that someone claiming, say, child benefit isn't subjected to. It's not a means-tested benefit, it's available to everyone in a single-adult household, and it's only worth a few pounds a week unless you live in a mansion. Of course you can choose not to accept it but why would you pay for services you aren't using? It would leave a bad taste in my mouth to do that when there are so many people who don't pay for anything.

When DP and I got back together there was a period of time when I was spending almost every night at his flat. We checked and checked again that we weren't doing anything we shouldn't be, because he received the single adult allowance and other benefits, and they told us that as long as I had a separate permanent address, paid my own council tax bill, and wasn't sub-letting, that where I actually spent my time was up to me. Not sure if this applies in the OP's situation since her DH lives abroad but I would assume it's the same principle.

catlady1 Mon 01-Apr-13 10:36:59

I should add, we were both renting from the council, that's where the no sub-letting thing came from. Just so I wasn't secretly living with DP and having someone else rent my flat from me.

Unfortunately they will always pursue you if they find something out of the ordinary going on.
Not many people have this set up, ie sharing a bank acc with someone they don't reside with.

They pursue me more than average Joe due to me renting from my father. Now a few years later after realising all is above board its not so bad but at first i felt somewhat interrogated, so in a way i can see why you are peeved.
I suppose we should blame the fact there are always a minority that work the system which cause our troubles angry

fedupofnamechanging Mon 01-Apr-13 10:38:59

property, that comment is way out of order.

ivykaty44 Mon 01-Apr-13 10:40:04

So Op and the other person are running two households - which is surely more expensive than running one joint household, so hardly saving money is it?

tallulah Mon 01-Apr-13 10:41:04

We relocated for work. For over 6 months I lived here with DD (then 2) and DH lived in our old house that we were trying to sell, in another town. The council here told me I wasn't entitled to the single person's reduction, despite the fact that DH did not live with us, that all the bills were in my name etc. They said that as a married couple we were considered to live together (in both houses 200 miles apart at the same time) so we had to pay full CT on both properties.

retrorita Mon 01-Apr-13 10:43:33

Tallulah I don't understand that. What if you had separated but were still married - as I am?

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 10:44:21

Not pay more dont grab and claim back something which will impact others when you don't need it.

The dh apparently tip toes through his visit to the uk without disturbing anything waif like he makes no impact on the uk.

As for tax yep I pay all my tax I don't claim all my tax loopholes cos I think it's immoral and in the overarching view I get more back than I could ever put in for tax.

I was born via the nhs, I was schooled by my LA , my parents worked in the council, I have been protected and looked after all my childhood and in my adult life i put back, my children were born on the nhs, had their lives saved by nhs. they can play in clean parks and safe streets and a couple of quid here or there is my thanks for everything that my family and friends have benifited from.

It makes me sad that that people are horrified that I could possibly pay more tax than I should.

For fucks sake I can't be surrounded by loads of jimmy carrs

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Mon 01-Apr-13 10:45:21

But it is sad that they prefer money to each other! Sad for the kids too.

mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 10:46:21

Kansas - have a flowers for a perfect explanation.

I thank God that I do not have to deal with the benefits system on a regular basis. for those who do, you have my sympathy. The first line of action seems to be to strike fear into you. Even the TV licensing authority threatens imminent prosecution the first time it sends a letter if your house doesn't have a TV license.

soverylucky Mon 01-Apr-13 10:46:27

I can see that you are not trying to committ fraud and I am not sure that you are. I don't think though that the single person reduction in benfit is really designed for situations like this. You benefit from being in a secure marriage financially therefore it seems to me that you don't really need the reduction that is there.

ALittleStranger Mon 01-Apr-13 10:46:46

IvyKaty the OP isn't subject to data protection laws. And refusing to cooperate with an investigation if you have nothing to hide is not a good idea.

There is a question mark over whether she is eligible for the single person discount given that she's married. It's an unusual set-up and the council are rightly investigating that she's not committing fraud. Are you currently receiving the discount OP or paying full-whack in the interim? If it's the former I really don't think you can complain. Just cooperate and if you're so confident youre not scamming your neighbours you'll be fine.

mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 10:50:47

Nightmare - that's a huge assumption. We all lived abroad together until 18m ago. It is because we have a strong marriage that we have got through years of living in strange places and DH travelling all the time.

DowntonTrout Mon 01-Apr-13 10:53:48

But the reduction is there because you are using less of the services than two people would.

tallulah that surprises me as we were told the opposite. I guess it's just because there isn't a scenario in the system which allows for this so it is being interpreted differently by different councils.

captainbarnacle Mon 01-Apr-13 10:55:16

I think the benefit is for people who need it. Sure, I would find the 25% cut useful for me and my 3DSs. But I don't need the benefit. I thought it was for old ladies, single mums, guys living on their own. I already get a lot from my council tax with myself and 3 children living here.

mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 10:55:33

soverylucky - it's not related to being in a marriage or to income - it is about how many people physically live in the property whether that's a DH, a partner or a lodger.
Everyone seems very keen to assume we have plenty of money and don't need the reduction.

I cant see why op should pay for 2 people, her dh doesn't even live here fgs. He doesn't use the council services like bin collection for example as he cant create waste when his actual body doesn't abode here grin

fedupofnamechanging Mon 01-Apr-13 10:58:01

property, they are not dodging tax. They each pay in the countries where they live. The OP is getting a discount on the grounds that she uses fewer services than if her dh lived with her.

Whether you consider that heought to live with her, is not relevant. She didn'tvask for judgements on the state of her relationship, only for judgement as to whether she is being U to take umbrage at the letter from the council.

soverylucky Mon 01-Apr-13 10:58:42

Yeah - I get that - just seems unfair that women and men whose partners are out in some god awful war zone on crap money have to pay the full whack then you should too.

People are quick to point the finger at so called scroungers but ultimately there are lots of people getting money from the state in some form or another - myself included. The letter they sent you is perfectly reasonably imo.

LessMissAbs Mon 01-Apr-13 11:02:48

YANBU. I have had similar sexist, intrusive enquiries when I have quite clearly informed the local authority that DH and I have a home each. I own mine in the north, he owns his in the south. Neither are holiday homes. I have mine for work purposes and he never lives in it. I pay from my own, single bank account. Only when I threatened to sue them under the Sex Discrimination Act did they back down and award me the single person's discount, retrospectively.

Booboostoo Mon 01-Apr-13 11:03:30

Wow OP you are getting some awful comments for no reason!

For the people who think that OP's DH should be paying the UK, do you also think that the OP should pay multiple occupancy council tax for the OP's foreign home that she never visits? Where does this double taxation end? Should the OP and her DH make double NI contributions in both countries? Or income tax payments in both countries?

LessMissAbs Mon 01-Apr-13 11:09:15

soverylucky You benefit from being in a secure marriage financially therefore it seems to me that you don't really need the reduction that is there

One of the most sexist, old-fashioned statements I have ever read. Are you aware that it is illegal under the 1975 Act to discriminate on grounds of marriage, just as it is on grounds of race, sex, disability, etc?

Are you also aware that the majority of benefit fraud is committed by non-married persons/couples?

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 11:09:26

But he has a presence in the household hasn't he? He doesn't fly on gossamer wings and sit in the house eat nothing. His children are still relying on the fireman to come and save them if god forbid there is a fire. The police keep the baddies from the door.
Don't claim the 25% think if it as charity.

gabsid Mon 01-Apr-13 11:13:31

They are fair questions and I would want to know where I stand, even if you seem to have applied for a discount and received it.

I would still try and argue for it again, bring in the previous council who granted it but I would be prepared to have to pay as well.

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