THE council has apologised to people who have had problems trying to get through to their tax team.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said their team has been fielding "a higher than usual" number of people trying to get through.

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett said she faced issues while trying to help out elderly residents.

The council spokesman said: “We’d like to apologise to anyone who has had problems getting through to our council tax team recently.

“The team currently has a higher than usual number of people phoning them.

“This is because in recent weeks they have sent out around 17,000 notices to residents who have not paid their council tax.

“The Covid-19 pandemic also continues to have an impact on services."

Residents are directed to pay their council tax online.

However, there have been reports that this is not working for some residents.

Elderly residents may also have problems paying usual the online portal.

Because of this, the council maintains a "pay by card" option on the phone.

This can be done by ringing 01273 291 908 and choose option 2.

The spokesman added: “This team is also responsible for distributing government Covid grants to thousands of local businesses as well as making payments for people isolating, and prioritising support such as food vouchers for people in need.

“The team has expanded its opening times and doubled the number of staff taking calls to help with this increase in demand."

A finance report from March last year warned that receipts from council tax, business rates and rents – including commercial rents – were likely to fall short as people struggle to pay their bills.

The council spokesman said “Our council tax team is committed to taking a supportive and sensitive approach to residents who are struggling to pay, particularly given the impact of the past year.

“The council has not used doorstep bailiffs to collect any newly owed council tax since the start of the pandemic last year.

“In cases of hardship we can offer a range of flexible repayment plans.”