Despite telling journalists that the Council don’t write off Council Tax debt ‘readily’, it has been revealed that Wakefield Council did just that, by simply writing off over £300, 000 in Council Tax in just one year.
As with everything else in life though, there are two sides to every story, so let’s present the arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ this decision, before opening up the discussion to hear what you think about this action from the South West Yorkshire officials…
As the spokesperson for the Council said, there are situations where individuals are unable to pay their Council Tax, making the pursuit a thankless (and pointless) task.
The persons concerned may be experiencing extreme financial hardship, either as a result of a redundancy or due to some other factors which may increase vulnerability, such as illness or bereavement.
Let’s face it, there’s a fair bit of redundancy, illness and bereavement about right now. That’s for sure.
Another point in favour of the Council’s decision, is that the ability to pursue these old debts in future (should a person’s circumstances change again) remains a possibility, although the likelihood of that is pretty low in our view.
The biggest tick in the ‘For’ column has to be that vulnerable people are almost certainly being afforded a level pf protection they might not have expected or experienced before. No formal letters, no visits, no seized goods or court dates, which in turn should hopefully ease stress, reduce mental health problems and allow them the opportunity to get back on their feet with at least one of their debts gone for good.
That’s the ‘For’ side of the argument taken care of then…
What about the other side of the coin?
Why should the rest of the population of Wakefield be expected to continue to pay their Council Tax, when a huge chunk has just been written off for others?
There will be families from all walks of life within the borough who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, who have been given absolutely no help whatsoever, and yet are still expected to pay their taxes as normal.
One rule for one and one rule for another?
Council Tax reductions and even exemptions already exist for the vulnerable, and for those who really need them, so why have these people been afforded an unprecedented ‘get out of jail free card?’
Surely they’re still using the services that the Council Tax pays for!?
And one more thing whilst we’re at it, what message does this send to people in future crises?
We think it sets a dangerous precedent for people to rack up their debts, half hoping that the Council (or other lenders) will just accept that it’s never going to get paid. It’s the wrong attitude to present.
So, that’s the ‘For’ and ‘Against’ covered…
Did we miss anything?
What do you think?
Have Wakefield Council gone soft? Are they being stupid?
Or are they simply showing sensitivity? And being sensible?
Let us know!