FENLANDER: No rise in council tax this year - but here’s your bill explained

YOUR Council Tax bill for the coming year is in the post and will be landing on your doormat any day now.

The good news, announced at Fenland District Council’s full council meeting on February 24, is that generally there is no rise in the tax this year, although some parish charges have gone up very slightly.

Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, the police and fire authorities and some parish/town councils have all frozen their share of the tax at the same level as last year. The parishes that have made nominal increases are Chatteris, Gorefield, Leverington, March, Parson Drove, Whittlesey and Wisbech.

The average tax due for a Band D property this year is �1,540.59. The way that money is divided up is shown in the illustration (at the top of this page).

The bills always prompt a variety of questions from customers. Here are the answers to the ones that are asked most often.


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PAYMENT DATES

When do I have to pay?

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Payments are due on the first day of the month. If you pay by Direct Debit, we can offer a choice of payment dates: 1st, 10th or 20th. Contact us to set one up. We are able to offer a choice of payment dates for Direct Debits because this is a more cost-effective way of processing payments.

Can I change my payment date if I pay by Direct Debit?

Yes – see above. If you are already set up on one date and another date is more convenient, you can change it.

What if I can’t pay the amount you have asked for?

It is important that you pay what we have asked on the dates payments are due. If you have a low income, you could get Council Tax Benefit (see the Benefits and Discounts panel, below).

ARREARS AND LATE PAYMENT

What if my bill shows arrears that I’ve already paid?

Payments receipted at February 26, 2011, have been included in the annual billing process. If you have paid after this date, the payment should now be on your account but it will not show on the annual bill because this was produced from the data we had on February 26.

I’m worried because I’m in arrears. What should I do?

Contact us at once to discuss your financial position. If you have serious arrears, we can review your arrears and discuss options with you. The key thing is not to bury your head in the sand and ignore arrears, thinking the problem will just go away.

Will I get reminders for late payment?

The law says we can issue up to two reminders for late payment in a financial year. You will not receive a reminder every month you miss a payment. After two reminders you lose the right to pay your Council Tax by instalments.

What happens if I don’t pay a reminder on time?

The next document you will receive will be a Summons.

What happens if I pay but always pay late?

You will receive a maximum of two reminders and will then receive a Summons for non-payment.

What happens if I get a Summons?

We will ask the Magistrates’ Court for a Liability Order against you. This means we can collect the money you owe by other methods, including Attachments to Earnings, Benefits and use of bailiffs. This incurs further costs.

What should I do if I get a Summons?

Contact us immediately to discuss your account. If you cannot pay in full, you will be asked to set up a Direct Debit for payment.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS

Who sets the band of my property?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA). This is a Government Agency. Queries regarding the band of your property should be addressed to: The Valuation Office Agency, Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road Cambridge, CB2 2DU (telephone 01223 431300).

Why do I have to pay a full charge on an empty property?

For second homes, our discount is 10 per cent. There is no discount for properties that have been empty for a long time.

CONTACTING FDC

• Visit our website www.fenland.gov.uk

• Phone us on 01354 654321. Phones are open Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm, and Sat, 9am-noon.

• Visit us at a Fenland @ your service shop in Wisbech, March, Whittlesey or Chatteris.

Our March and Wisbech shops are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-noon.

Our Chatteris shop is open Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri 9am-5pm, Wed 1-5pm and Sat 9am-noon.

Our Whittlesey shop is open Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri 9am-5pm, Wed 9am-1pm and Sat 9am-noon.

• E-mail us at counciltax@fenland.gov.uk or benefits@fenland.gov.uk

• Write to us at Fenland District Council, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, Cambs PE15 8NQ.

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