On the afternoon of 17 February 2014, the Benefits Legal Group issued a press release to 50 news organisations and the Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs informing them that council tax payers whose properties had been flooded were entitled to reclaim part or all of their council tax.
By mid-day on the 19th February 2014, David Cameron had to announce that the government would underwrite any Council Tax reclaimed from local authorities as a result of the floods. We got a hat-tip in UK flooding victims will get council tax rebates, David Cameron promises (Guardian, 19 February).
The Evening Standard (19 February) also published a letter from our senior lawyer:
Reduced council tax for flood victims
A discretionary power enabling local authorities to reduce council tax bills to victims of flooding exists in law under section 13A (1) (c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended) but has been overlooked in recent discussions about assistance. Applications must be made in writing to the local authority by the council tax payer; a reduction is not automatic but the law expects all applications to be considered fairly and determined within eight weeks. There is a right of appeal if a reduction is unreasonably refused. With new council tax bills de to go our in April, this measure deserves to be better known.
Alan Murdie, barrister, Benefits Legal Group
If that is what can be achieved with our first press release, we look forward to the results of the others we currently have queued.