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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"...


Sirzy Mon 01-Apr-13 07:59:26

I don't see the issue. Considering you are claiming as a single occupancy then I can see why they would chase it up.

Tee2072 Mon 01-Apr-13 08:02:50

They are all fair questions, I think.

JollyPurpleGiant Mon 01-Apr-13 08:03:34

I don't see an issue with their letter either. Your situation is hardly common.

EasilyBored Mon 01-Apr-13 08:05:11

Well I imagine that a married couple, using the same bank account, but claiming a single occupant allowance is not a situation that they see a lot except in cases of fraud. I don't see why you would be offended, it's an unusual circumstances and the have a right to check for fraud.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 08:05:38

If you are claiming a benefit, they have the right to ask questions before deciding.
The tone was neutral, not insulting. Of course it's their business.

Thurlow Mon 01-Apr-13 08:08:07

All very fair. They have to check. Of course a joint account but sole tenancy would ring alarm bells somewhere. I'm a bit confused why you are annoyed by these questions?

saintmerryweather Mon 01-Apr-13 08:08:19

Some people really do look for problems where none exist dont they? I cant see anything wrong with that letter and they need to ask...or are they meant to just know whats going on without asking?

HollyBerryBush Mon 01-Apr-13 08:08:33

Although this link applies to service personnel it is pertinent

I have looked into this with the case studies in law and, while it is at the discretion of individual councils, there is an overwhelming mass of legal cases to show that even if the spouse works away from home and only returns for a few days each year the family home is considered their main residence and so the remaining spouse will not get a discount.

AFF would encourage all families in this situation to approach the council to see if they will take their individual circumstances into consideration however be prepared to be told “No”.

So you very well may be committing an unwitting fraud.

ginmakesitallok Mon 01-Apr-13 08:09:56


MrsCampbellBlack Mon 01-Apr-13 08:11:53

I think very reasonable and sensible questions.

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 08:12:15

So if dh lives away for tax purposes he is making no contribution to the local environment despite his child children ? Living here and benigitti g from school, nhs, police, parks, roads, social services etc, etc

This annoys me as I think you should pay full council tax and tax you are benefiting from the services as is he when drops in every couple of weeks.

Just pay the money all of it.
You owe it in particular to me......

ithaka Mon 01-Apr-13 08:12:28

It is not clear to me that you would qualify for single occupancy rebate if you are still married to and supported by your husband. It seems a grey area to me so I can understand why the council needs to clarify your exact circumstances.

lougle Mon 01-Apr-13 08:14:14

I think you'll find that this is fraud, although you sound to be genuinely unaware of it, rather than deliberately claiming fraudulently.

Lockedout434 Mon 01-Apr-13 08:14:47

Benigitti g Ffs benefiting

lurkedtoolong Mon 01-Apr-13 08:15:46

YABU in thinking that the questions are cheeky. How are the council expected to know the ins and outs of your tax avoidance schemes?

kungfupannda Mon 01-Apr-13 08:16:36

Nothing wrong with the letter at all, but I agree that you need to check whether you are actually entitled to this reduction.

Obviously your situation is quite extreme, but DP works away for a fair chunk of the week, and stays at a flat where he pays council tax. We obviously also pay council tax on our home and we aren't entitled to any reduction, even though he is there more nights than he is here - we are even on separate electoral roles.

I would talk the the council about the entitlement, not about the letter.

Blamenargles Mon 01-Apr-13 08:20:47

I think that the letter is fine at the end of the day it's their duty to check.

I also think its a bit of a grey area as yes you are living alone but you Obviously don't have a single income and he does stop there every now and then. So you might not be eligible for single discount.

Icelollycraving Mon 01-Apr-13 08:20:50

Yabu. The tone is very neutral,they have the right to ask questions. Does your dh contribute to you financially? Sounds wrong to me to be claiming benefits if he earns enough to have accounts outside of Uk for tax dodging reasons.

KittyAndTheFontanelles Mon 01-Apr-13 08:21:11


ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 01-Apr-13 08:21:45

Is this an April Fools?

MrsLouisTheroux Mon 01-Apr-13 08:22:26

Hmm, you're playing the system really: "He is non resident for tax purposes"
It's an unusual situation but if he owns his home abroad/ pays some sort of housing tax on it it will be easy to prove that you genuinely do live separately and that your home is not his main home.
The questions asked are not aggressive and if you are applying for a discount ( single person's allowance) they are relevant to your application.

KittyAndTheFontanelles Mon 01-Apr-13 08:23:31


MrsBW Mon 01-Apr-13 08:25:48

Not sure if the 'non resident for tax purposes' means it's different, but when my husband worked with the Forces in Germany for two years, spending similar time in the UK as yours (about 1 weekend every 6 weeks), we were NOT entitled to any council tax discount... Just as Holly says.

lougle Mon 01-Apr-13 08:28:40

Actually, I take that back. It seems that if it is not his main residence, he doesn't count. It's wrong, IMO, but there you go.

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