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Gosport Borough Council (19 020 131)

Category : Benefits and tax > Council tax

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 27 Mar 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr P’s complaint about council tax payments and an attachment of earnings. This is because it would be reasonable for Mr P to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal if he is unhappy with the Council’s decision.

The complaint

  1. Mr P complains the Council is deducting money from his wages to pay for council tax arrears, despite him not being the only liable person. Mr P says the Council is not seeking payment from the other liable person, and the deductions from his wages are causing financial difficulties.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
  3. The Valuation Tribunal deals with appeals against decision on council tax liability.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered what Mr P said in his complaint and invited him to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr P says he was jointly liable for council tax with a third party several years ago. He says he was employed, and the third party was not working. Mr P says he was unaware the council tax was not being paid during this period.
  2. Mr P says the Council is deducting money from his wages to pay for unpaid council tax. Mr P says he has provided the Council with the third party’s contact details, but it continues to deduct money from his wages without seeking recovery from the third party. Mr P says this is causing him financial difficulties.
  3. If Mr P is unhappy with the Council’s decision, he can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. The Valuation Tribunal is an independent expert body and its decisions are binding on councils. The Valuation Tribunal is best placed to decide who is liable to pay Council Tax, so I am satisfied it is reasonable to expect Mr P to appeal to them.
  4. Mr P acknowledges he was jointly liable for council tax. If two parties are jointly and severally liable, the Council can seek payment for the total amount of council tax from one or both parties.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because it would be reasonable for Mr P to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal if he is unhappy with the Council’s decision.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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