Waltham Council warns of council tax refund scam

Waltham Forest Council is warning residents not to fall for bogus letters claiming to offer a council tax refund.

The letters, which have an official-looking council letterhead, ask residents to enter their details into a website to check if they are eligible for up to avoid paying council tax for up to a year.

It also suggests residents may be eligible for a refund on the five months of council tax they have already paid.

The council is warning people not to visit the webpage or enter their details if they receive one.

The letter reads: “The government has, so far, brought forward a package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Further to helping the nation throughout this pandemic, the government has agreed with the local councils to implement yet another measure that should aid people from a financial point of view even more.”

It claims that from August 26, residents may be eligible to stop paying council tax for three months or up to a year depending on their area, time at the address and household income.

It instructs residents to check their eligibility status at gov.waltham-support.co.uk by entering a provided security code and the “names and information of everyone who lives at this address”.

The council’s website states that it “will not be providing payment holidays” on council tax because it is “essential for the provision of essential services”.

Regarding the decision by some other London boroughs to provide payment holidays, it adds: “Waltham Forest have made the decision not to do this as a general rule.

“A payment holiday means that the amount payable is compressed over a shorter period of time.

“You can increase your instalments to pay over 12 months instead of 10 by completing the Council Tax Covid Support form.”

Residents who are struggling financially may be eligible for Council Tax Support or Discretionary Council Tax Hardship.

Waltham Forest was given £2 million by the central government to help those residents struggling with council tax payments.

It will use this money to give all current working-age recipients of council tax support a further reduction of £150 this year, regardless of how coronavirus has affected them.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter