Bradwell pensioner’s warning to others after council tax bill shock
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
A great-grandmother says she feels she has been 'conned' by town hall bosses after discovering she had been overpaying her council tax for more than six years.
Sally Farnham, from Bradwell, only recently discovered she was eligible for financial support to pay the monthly bills because she receives pensioner's credit.
The 82-year-old went to Great Yarmouth Town Hall to ask about getting some help and was gobsmacked when staff said her council tax support benefit would only be backdated for three months, leaving her hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
Mrs Farnham estimates she has paid around £7,000 in council tax over the years and was 'gutted' when she received a cheque for just £429.
Frustrated and worried lots of people might fall into the same trap, she has spoken out to warn others.
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The retired post office worker said: 'I feel like I've been conned, it was just paltry what they gave me back. There's nothing I can do about it and it feels so unfair.'
Mrs Farnham, who suffers osteo-arthritis, moved to Bradwell from her native London in 2008 following the death of her husband George.
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The grandmother of five, who holidayed in Great Yarmouth for more than 40 years, had diligently paid her council tax since moving to the borough and it was not until she started chatting to a friend she realised she might be in line for a discount.
She said: 'It's gone up by more or less a pound each year and last year I was paying £101 a month.
'I've got an old pensioner friend and she didn't have to pay [as much] council tax and I thought this is not on, so I used to phone the council up every year and complain as it was getting hard to pay.'
However, Mrs Farnham was never advised to query whether she should be paying it - until last year.
'When I got the last statement I said to them it was a bit hard and the lady said 'you're on pension credit, you shouldn't be paying' and I said I have been for six and a half years.
'She said leave it with me.'
But when Mrs Farnham went down to the council offices a few days later she was shocked to find out how little she would be refunded.
'The lady said we can only give you three months back and I said you're having a laugh,' she added. 'I was absolutely gutted, I have just got to swallow it.
'I would like to put out there to other people that they ought to check out what they're paying, I'd have probably been paying it for the rest of my life.'
A spokesman for Yarmouth Borough Council said householders like Mrs Farnham on pension credit can qualify for council tax support, but it is down to the resident as an individual to apply for it.
'Every council tax bill makes it clear those on low incomes can apply for council tax support. Under legal regulations, pensioners awarded council tax support are entitled to have their support backdated for three months from the date of their application.
'This is in accordance with the borough council's council tax scheme, which mirrors the national housing benefit regulations and the old council tax benefit regulations.'
The council said there was no exemption from paying council tax on the basis the householder is a pensioner or receives pension credits.