Call for compensation over Sheffield tax blunder

News: Local, national and international news 24-hours a day.
News: Local, national and international news 24-hours a day.

CALLS have been made for Sheffield Council’s contractor to compensate people wrongly summonsed to court for council tax arrears.

The council is still investigating how many of the 5,000 summonses – ordering people to attend Sheffield Magistrates’ Court last Friday – were sent out to people who actually owed money.

Some of those sent the summons, which were dated January 11, despite not arriving in the post until last week, were not in arrears or were students, so not eligible to pay council tax.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors tabled an emergency question at a council meeting urging people who did not owe any council tax to receive compensation.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Lib Dem group leader, said payments should be made by Capita, the contractor responsible for collecting council tax.

He said: “For hundreds of local people this letter caused unnecessary and understandable distress.

“Some waited on the phone for close to an hour, while others were wrongly forced to take time off work, pay hefty parking charges in the city-centre or shell out for bus and train fares.

“These unfortunate residents should be compensated for the money they lost because of the incompetence of those in charge.”

Coun Bryan Lodge, council cabinet member for finance, said: “I would like to reassure people who were incorrectly summonsed will be reimbursed for any mistakes made by Capita. Due to a two-week delay in postage, people did not receive their summonses in good time.

“Capita have made a full apology for the inconvenience and stress caused and I would also like to add my own apologies.

“People who were correctly summonsed due to arrears have until Friday, February 22, to pay, to compensate for the delay.”