Just seven people responded to West Norfolk council tax relief consultation, meeting told

council tax bill gv pic 3 hires PPP-150721-115301001
council tax bill gv pic 3 hires PPP-150721-115301001
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Only seven people took part in a public consultation on proposed council tax relief in West Norfolk, it has emerged.

The figure, which was revealed at the borough council’s meeting last Thursday, led to calls for more to be done to encourage people to take part in the discussion.

Labour leader John Collop described the response as “very poor” and suggested the consulation should be made more “user-friendly.”

He said: “If we’re going to try to be fair to the public we should make sure there is info there to say exactly what is happening and how it affects different people.

“I don’t mind which way it goes but I’d like to see more than seven people respond to such an important issue.”

Deputy leader Alistair Beales said it was a “perennial problem”, but argued the authority was limited in what it could do to encourage more people to respond.

He said: “all this council can do is lay this proposal before the public. We can’t draw conclusions.

“I would agree we need to keep trying but to try to simplify is just not possible. Any improvements that can be put in place will be.”

Under the scheme, people of working age who qualify for support still have to pay a quarter of the council tax bill for their property.

And Labour backbencher Charles Joyce questioned whether the council was properly consulting its own housing officers on the relief programme.

He asked: “Is there any correlation between housing default and also having to pay 25 per cent of council tax?.

“That would seem quite likely. If you can’t afford to pay your rent you can’t afford to pay council tax and you’re hit with the double whammy of a court summons sometimes before or instead of the red letter. That’s what some people have said to me.

“Is the coun actually consulting itself with the right question?”

Leader Nick Daubney said: “All available data is always used to put together responses. None of these decisions are easy but the thing we abide by is to protect the most vulnerable groups. That is what we have to do. That is what we do.”