The ArgusCouncil phonelines overwhelmed as unpaid tax summonses go out in Brighton and Hove (From The Argus)

Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.

Council phonelines overwhelmed as unpaid tax summonses go out in Brighton and Hove

Thousands of people summonsed over unpaid council tax are struggling to settle their debts because Brighton and Hove City Council phonelines are jammed.

More than 2,700 people received summonses from the council in the last month.

But some say they have been unable to pay because there is no answer on the council’s phonelines.

The council said nearly 5,000 calls to its council tax lines were answered in January.

It expects the rush to continue and is recruiting extra staff to help.

In the month leading up to last Friday, 3,395 reminders were issued to people who had outstanding payments.

The reminders advised people to contact the council, or face a court appearance.

The council issued 2,758 sum- monses for non-payment in the same period.

Managers recruited four extra staff to cope with a high number of phonecalls, increasing the size of the team to ten.

And yet more staff are being recruited ready for next week.

But some taxpayers have reported waiting up to an hour with no reply.

The council said part of the problem was that it had also written to benefits claimants advising them to call for more information about the abolition of some benefits in April.

One 47-year-old taxpayer from Brighton, who asked not to be named, contacted The Argus saying he had received a reminder to pay his tax at the end of January – but had been unable to get through on the council number.

He said: “I’ve been on hold for an hour and nobody answers.

“I’ve emailed, I’ve asked them to call me back [and nobody has].

“I should imagine thousands of people are getting summonses if this is the case.”

The council apologised to people for the delays.

It claimed the number of summonses it issues has fallen from 24,000 in 2009 to 14,000 for 2012.

A council spokesman said he hoped the issue would be resolved next week.

He said: “We are sorry to hear that people have had difficulty getting through on our telephone lines. It is really important to us that we deliver a high quality service.

“We are tracking the situation closely as we are experiencing high demand on some days but it is fluctuating considerably.

"We have been recruiting extra staff in anticipation of higher volumes of inquiries.”

Comments (15)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:42pm Fri 15 Feb 13

RottingdeanRant says...

What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.
What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay. RottingdeanRant
  • Score: 0

2:04pm Fri 15 Feb 13

MMouse says...

If they had paid in the first place they would not be having this problem, instead we ALL end up paying more to cover the extra staff that have been taken on to deal with them.
If they had paid in the first place they would not be having this problem, instead we ALL end up paying more to cover the extra staff that have been taken on to deal with them. MMouse
  • Score: 0

2:07pm Fri 15 Feb 13

qm says...

The phone lines are not jammed, it's a sunny day and they are all on the beach . . . .
The phone lines are not jammed, it's a sunny day and they are all on the beach . . . . qm
  • Score: 0

2:07pm Fri 15 Feb 13

lorrie1 says...

RottingdeanRant wrote:
What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.
Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe!
Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.
[quote][p][bold]RottingdeanRant[/bold] wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.[/p][/quote]Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end. lorrie1
  • Score: 0

2:25pm Fri 15 Feb 13

Fight_Back says...

lorrie1 wrote:
RottingdeanRant wrote:
What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.
Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe!
Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.
I would imagine your unfortunate situation of the council having made a mistake is a rarity compared to the number of people who haven't paid when they should have.

There's no excuse for those people given you can pay by Direct Debit, Standing Order, via the web, at the bank, at the post office and over the phone for the whole of the preceding TEN months !!!!!
[quote][p][bold]lorrie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RottingdeanRant[/bold] wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.[/p][/quote]Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.[/p][/quote]I would imagine your unfortunate situation of the council having made a mistake is a rarity compared to the number of people who haven't paid when they should have. There's no excuse for those people given you can pay by Direct Debit, Standing Order, via the web, at the bank, at the post office and over the phone for the whole of the preceding TEN months !!!!! Fight_Back
  • Score: 0

3:49pm Fri 15 Feb 13

Lewesroadresident says...

lorrie1 wrote:
RottingdeanRant wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.
Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.
Umm, if you keep getting a bill then you do owe that amount! You mean that you think it is wrong, which is not the same thing at all. If you are on benefits, then why not call the benefit department instead?

If you keep getting a bill for the same amount then it's probably correct.

Unless you've been on sickness benefits for your entire life, you will have had to pay at some point so may well owe money from a previous year.

Plus, not all those who are long term sick get full council tax benefit- it depends on what sickness benefit you get and how much. Plenty of people on long term incapacity benefit receive a level of benefit that means they do have to pay something towards council tax.

And don't forget everyone except pensioners will have to pay a small amount of council tax from April, as 100% council tax benefit will no longer exist!
[quote][p][bold]lorrie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RottingdeanRant[/bold] wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.[/p][/quote]Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.[/p][/quote]Umm, if you keep getting a bill then you do owe that amount! You mean that you think it is wrong, which is not the same thing at all. If you are on benefits, then why not call the benefit department instead? If you keep getting a bill for the same amount then it's probably correct. Unless you've been on sickness benefits for your entire life, you will have had to pay at some point so may well owe money from a previous year. Plus, not all those who are long term sick get full council tax benefit- it depends on what sickness benefit you get and how much. Plenty of people on long term incapacity benefit receive a level of benefit that means they do have to pay something towards council tax. And don't forget everyone except pensioners will have to pay a small amount of council tax from April, as 100% council tax benefit will no longer exist! Lewesroadresident
  • Score: 0

4:10pm Fri 15 Feb 13

leobrighton says...

Surprised there are so many comments defending the council. In my experience they are totally incompetent and often make mistakes. I'm sure most of these summonses were totally unnessary and were sent out because of new year bank holiday. They will send them out if payments are only a few days late. It is them who are wasting money and I'm sure they enjoy sending them out to intimidate and terrorise elderly residents.
Surprised there are so many comments defending the council. In my experience they are totally incompetent and often make mistakes. I'm sure most of these summonses were totally unnessary and were sent out because of new year bank holiday. They will send them out if payments are only a few days late. It is them who are wasting money and I'm sure they enjoy sending them out to intimidate and terrorise elderly residents. leobrighton
  • Score: 0

4:21pm Fri 15 Feb 13

hursthill says...

The 3 biggest lies in the world - :

1) I was unable to pay because no one answered the phone.

2) The cheque is in the post.

3) Darling I won't come i..... ... .
The 3 biggest lies in the world - : 1) I was unable to pay because no one answered the phone. 2) The cheque is in the post. 3) Darling I won't come i..... ... . hursthill
  • Score: 0

5:11pm Fri 15 Feb 13

Morpheus says...

Will Jason get the message that people cannot afford an increase in council tax?
Will Jason get the message that people cannot afford an increase in council tax? Morpheus
  • Score: 0

6:39pm Fri 15 Feb 13

tradebooker says...

People ain't paying for uncommon sensible schemes such as 20mph city wide ( yes all roads), stupid cycle lanes like old shoreham rd that hardly anyone uses and causes major congestion now, making all cabs be massive 5 man vans totally uncomfortable and emission monsters, trying to build thousands of houses on green belt. Peeps don't want it. VOTE THE GREENS OUT.COM!!! I ain't paying them nothing.. I'll go to prison on principle! Stand up and get rid of this lot
People ain't paying for uncommon sensible schemes such as 20mph city wide ( yes all roads), stupid cycle lanes like old shoreham rd that hardly anyone uses and causes major congestion now, making all cabs be massive 5 man vans totally uncomfortable and emission monsters, trying to build thousands of houses on green belt. Peeps don't want it. VOTE THE GREENS OUT.COM!!! I ain't paying them nothing.. I'll go to prison on principle! Stand up and get rid of this lot tradebooker
  • Score: 0

7:20pm Fri 15 Feb 13

Are you joking? says...

leobrighton wrote:
Surprised there are so many comments defending the council. In my experience they are totally incompetent and often make mistakes. I'm sure most of these summonses were totally unnessary and were sent out because of new year bank holiday. They will send them out if payments are only a few days late. It is them who are wasting money and I'm sure they enjoy sending them out to intimidate and terrorise elderly residents.
Firstly, none of the posts have been defending the Council.They have merely pointed out that people have been summonsed for not paying their Council Tax and should sort out direct payments etc, in order to avoid being summonsed.

The posts are criticising the non payers and nothing more. Believe it or not , if you are registered as liable for Council Tax, it is your legal responsibility to pay it, by your own means or with help from the benefit system. If you don't pay you will be summonsed. Its not a joke its a tax. No one 'wants' to pay, everyone has too.

Secondly, if you seriously believe that the Council enjoys sending threatening letters to elderly residents, I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself.

What, do you think some devilish character sits down rubbing his hands with glee on a large pile of summonses, imagining all the old ladies he's going to upset once he sends them out? Grow up!

Its a system, its not perfect and I'm sure mistakes are probably made. But to suggest there is some sort of malicious intent behind it is, frankly, ludicrous.
[quote][p][bold]leobrighton[/bold] wrote: Surprised there are so many comments defending the council. In my experience they are totally incompetent and often make mistakes. I'm sure most of these summonses were totally unnessary and were sent out because of new year bank holiday. They will send them out if payments are only a few days late. It is them who are wasting money and I'm sure they enjoy sending them out to intimidate and terrorise elderly residents.[/p][/quote]Firstly, none of the posts have been defending the Council.They have merely pointed out that people have been summonsed for not paying their Council Tax and should sort out direct payments etc, in order to avoid being summonsed. The posts are criticising the non payers and nothing more. Believe it or not , if you are registered as liable for Council Tax, it is your legal responsibility to pay it, by your own means or with help from the benefit system. If you don't pay you will be summonsed. Its not a joke its a tax. No one 'wants' to pay, everyone has too. Secondly, if you seriously believe that the Council enjoys sending threatening letters to elderly residents, I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself. What, do you think some devilish character sits down rubbing his hands with glee on a large pile of summonses, imagining all the old ladies he's going to upset once he sends them out? Grow up! Its a system, its not perfect and I'm sure mistakes are probably made. But to suggest there is some sort of malicious intent behind it is, frankly, ludicrous. Are you joking?
  • Score: 0

8:21pm Fri 15 Feb 13

lorrie1 says...

Lewesroadresident wrote:
lorrie1 wrote:
RottingdeanRant wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.
Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.
Umm, if you keep getting a bill then you do owe that amount! You mean that you think it is wrong, which is not the same thing at all. If you are on benefits, then why not call the benefit department instead? If you keep getting a bill for the same amount then it's probably correct. Unless you've been on sickness benefits for your entire life, you will have had to pay at some point so may well owe money from a previous year. Plus, not all those who are long term sick get full council tax benefit- it depends on what sickness benefit you get and how much. Plenty of people on long term incapacity benefit receive a level of benefit that means they do have to pay something towards council tax. And don't forget everyone except pensioners will have to pay a small amount of council tax from April, as 100% council tax benefit will no longer exist!
Have spoken to dwp and housing office, they BOTH say i DONT have to pay, so its there MISTAKE NOT MINE!
[quote][p][bold]Lewesroadresident[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]lorrie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RottingdeanRant[/bold] wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.[/p][/quote]Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.[/p][/quote]Umm, if you keep getting a bill then you do owe that amount! You mean that you think it is wrong, which is not the same thing at all. If you are on benefits, then why not call the benefit department instead? If you keep getting a bill for the same amount then it's probably correct. Unless you've been on sickness benefits for your entire life, you will have had to pay at some point so may well owe money from a previous year. Plus, not all those who are long term sick get full council tax benefit- it depends on what sickness benefit you get and how much. Plenty of people on long term incapacity benefit receive a level of benefit that means they do have to pay something towards council tax. And don't forget everyone except pensioners will have to pay a small amount of council tax from April, as 100% council tax benefit will no longer exist![/p][/quote]Have spoken to dwp and housing office, they BOTH say i DONT have to pay, so its there MISTAKE NOT MINE! lorrie1
  • Score: 0

10:32pm Fri 15 Feb 13

ourcoalition says...

Morpheus wrote:
Will Jason get the message that people cannot afford an increase in council tax?
If you substitute "Coalition Government" for Jason, then you would be correct.
If there is a 0% council tax rise, next years budget is several per cent lower than this years, and that is compounded year on year, going forward. That means bigger cuts in core services to the most vulnerable - yes, those front-line services that in 2010, George Osborne stated would not be affected.
By the way I am not a Green voter, but I do prefer those who are creating this situation, and seeking to divide us, to get the blame. The choice for all Councils is one of a "rock and a hard place"- and if you think this is only this Council, have a quick look at Surrey County Council - Tory run, and proposing a 1.99% increase, for the same reason BHCC is putting that forward.
[quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: Will Jason get the message that people cannot afford an increase in council tax?[/p][/quote]If you substitute "Coalition Government" for Jason, then you would be correct. If there is a 0% council tax rise, next years budget is several per cent lower than this years, and that is compounded year on year, going forward. That means bigger cuts in core services to the most vulnerable - yes, those front-line services that in 2010, George Osborne stated would not be affected. By the way I am not a Green voter, but I do prefer those who are creating this situation, and seeking to divide us, to get the blame. The choice for all Councils is one of a "rock and a hard place"- and if you think this is only this Council, have a quick look at Surrey County Council - Tory run, and proposing a 1.99% increase, for the same reason BHCC is putting that forward. ourcoalition
  • Score: 0

8:36am Sat 16 Feb 13

Plantpot says...

ourcoalition wrote:
Morpheus wrote:
Will Jason get the message that people cannot afford an increase in council tax?
If you substitute "Coalition Government" for Jason, then you would be correct.
If there is a 0% council tax rise, next years budget is several per cent lower than this years, and that is compounded year on year, going forward. That means bigger cuts in core services to the most vulnerable - yes, those front-line services that in 2010, George Osborne stated would not be affected.
By the way I am not a Green voter, but I do prefer those who are creating this situation, and seeking to divide us, to get the blame. The choice for all Councils is one of a "rock and a hard place"- and if you think this is only this Council, have a quick look at Surrey County Council - Tory run, and proposing a 1.99% increase, for the same reason BHCC is putting that forward.
Of course, no referendum is going to result in a vote for an increase in Council Tax, except where the majority are on hand outs. So in effect the government have limited council tax rises for hard pressed families. Something to celebrate I would have thought.
[quote][p][bold]ourcoalition[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: Will Jason get the message that people cannot afford an increase in council tax?[/p][/quote]If you substitute "Coalition Government" for Jason, then you would be correct. If there is a 0% council tax rise, next years budget is several per cent lower than this years, and that is compounded year on year, going forward. That means bigger cuts in core services to the most vulnerable - yes, those front-line services that in 2010, George Osborne stated would not be affected. By the way I am not a Green voter, but I do prefer those who are creating this situation, and seeking to divide us, to get the blame. The choice for all Councils is one of a "rock and a hard place"- and if you think this is only this Council, have a quick look at Surrey County Council - Tory run, and proposing a 1.99% increase, for the same reason BHCC is putting that forward.[/p][/quote]Of course, no referendum is going to result in a vote for an increase in Council Tax, except where the majority are on hand outs. So in effect the government have limited council tax rises for hard pressed families. Something to celebrate I would have thought. Plantpot
  • Score: 0

1:38pm Sat 16 Feb 13

Lewesroadresident says...

lorrie1 wrote:
Lewesroadresident wrote:
lorrie1 wrote:
RottingdeanRant wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.
Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.
Umm, if you keep getting a bill then you do owe that amount! You mean that you think it is wrong, which is not the same thing at all. If you are on benefits, then why not call the benefit department instead? If you keep getting a bill for the same amount then it's probably correct. Unless you've been on sickness benefits for your entire life, you will have had to pay at some point so may well owe money from a previous year. Plus, not all those who are long term sick get full council tax benefit- it depends on what sickness benefit you get and how much. Plenty of people on long term incapacity benefit receive a level of benefit that means they do have to pay something towards council tax. And don't forget everyone except pensioners will have to pay a small amount of council tax from April, as 100% council tax benefit will no longer exist!
Have spoken to dwp and housing office, they BOTH say i DONT have to pay, so its there MISTAKE NOT MINE!
Right, well that might be where you are going wrong! Neither the DWP nor the housing office have anything to do with council tax, nor would they have any access to the council tax database to see what is happening.

I don't think you're telling the truth- if you ask the DWP about council tax they will tell you to contact the council tax department, because....they don't know anything about council tax!

Would you ask council tax about JSA? No. Sainsbury's about Tesco? No. Why don't you talk to the people who will be taking you to court instead? Is it because you know you won't like the answer, because you do have to pay the bill? I wonder.

If the balance exists, you need to sort it out, it's not hard. Just ignoring it is idiotic, and you'll end up being summonsed and charged for the privilege.

As you didn't bother to sort the bill out you might very well be told to pay the cost of the summons by a court- well done, you've lost £100.00 and cost other tax payers money because you won't take responsibility for your own life.

Local and central government make loads of mistakes, it's really easy to criticise them for something that is real. You don't have to make stuff up. If you're sitting at home telling everyone who will listen that 'I don't have to pay' but not contacting the right people, you're not being very sensible. I repeat- if you are getting a bill, you are legally liable to pay it or sort it out, until the balance is nil.

That's why this article is laughable- plenty of real criticism to be made but they go for the easy, fictional option. Instead of having a pop at the council for not having enough staff for an unusual event, why not have a go at the selfish 'citizens' who can't be bothered to do what most of us do - pay their bills. The idea that people get a summons and immediately ring up to settle the bill is hilarious.
[quote][p][bold]lorrie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lewesroadresident[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]lorrie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]RottingdeanRant[/bold] wrote: What a ridiculous excuse for not paying! Sort out a direct payment or pay on time and you won’t have a problem. If the council has to chase these non payers then it is the rest of us that is paying for their refusal or lack of organisation to pay.[/p][/quote]Funny you say that, Im on long term sick benifits and Dont have to pay council tax! Yet keep on getting bills for around 256 quid which I dont even owe! Spent 47 mins trying to get through to these USELESS people the other day, i give up in the end.[/p][/quote]Umm, if you keep getting a bill then you do owe that amount! You mean that you think it is wrong, which is not the same thing at all. If you are on benefits, then why not call the benefit department instead? If you keep getting a bill for the same amount then it's probably correct. Unless you've been on sickness benefits for your entire life, you will have had to pay at some point so may well owe money from a previous year. Plus, not all those who are long term sick get full council tax benefit- it depends on what sickness benefit you get and how much. Plenty of people on long term incapacity benefit receive a level of benefit that means they do have to pay something towards council tax. And don't forget everyone except pensioners will have to pay a small amount of council tax from April, as 100% council tax benefit will no longer exist![/p][/quote]Have spoken to dwp and housing office, they BOTH say i DONT have to pay, so its there MISTAKE NOT MINE![/p][/quote]Right, well that might be where you are going wrong! Neither the DWP nor the housing office have anything to do with council tax, nor would they have any access to the council tax database to see what is happening. I don't think you're telling the truth- if you ask the DWP about council tax they will tell you to contact the council tax department, because....they don't know anything about council tax! Would you ask council tax about JSA? No. Sainsbury's about Tesco? No. Why don't you talk to the people who will be taking you to court instead? Is it because you know you won't like the answer, because you do have to pay the bill? I wonder. If the balance exists, you need to sort it out, it's not hard. Just ignoring it is idiotic, and you'll end up being summonsed and charged for the privilege. As you didn't bother to sort the bill out you might very well be told to pay the cost of the summons by a court- well done, you've lost £100.00 and cost other tax payers money because you won't take responsibility for your own life. Local and central government make loads of mistakes, it's really easy to criticise them for something that is real. You don't have to make stuff up. If you're sitting at home telling everyone who will listen that 'I don't have to pay' but not contacting the right people, you're not being very sensible. I repeat- if you are getting a bill, you are legally liable to pay it or sort it out, until the balance is nil. That's why this article is laughable- plenty of real criticism to be made but they go for the easy, fictional option. Instead of having a pop at the council for not having enough staff for an unusual event, why not have a go at the selfish 'citizens' who can't be bothered to do what most of us do - pay their bills. The idea that people get a summons and immediately ring up to settle the bill is hilarious. Lewesroadresident
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree